Royal Netherlands Army 11 Airmobile Brigade (11 Luchtmobiele Brigade)
Royal Netherlands Army 11 Airmobile Brigade (11 Luchtmobiele Brigade)

Royal Netherlands Army 11 Airmobile Brigade Enhanced Forward Presence Duty In Romania

Roughly 100 military personnel from 11 Airmobile Brigade (11 Luchtmobiele Brigade ‘7 december’) have started work in Romania. Three rotations will be part of NATO’s forward presence there for a year. The 11 Air Assault Brigade is the rapid light infantry brigade of the Royal Netherlands Army, focused on conducting air assault operations. The ‘red berets’ will be stationed at a military base in Cincu, which is in the middle of the country. The airmobile forces will be part of a battle group of approximately 900 troops led by France. The 11 Air Assault Brigade is a rapidly deployable and highly mobile force. The brigade operates either by foot, using light vehicles or using tactical or strategic airlift capabilities (such as helicopters or airplanes). All the operational units of the brigade are Air Assault (AASLT)-capable.

Additionally, a part of the brigade are qualified for airborne operations. The air manoeuvre warfare conducted by the brigade makes it especially effective for operations behind enemy lines, to swiftly gain hold of strategic locations such as bridges until being relieved by mechanised infantry and cavalry units. CH-47 Chinook and AS532 Cougar transport helicopters from the Defence Helicopter Command support the brigade with the transport of troops, weapons and materiel, while AH-64 Apache attack helicopters are used for reconnaissance and air support purposes. When the helicopters are deployed combinedly with infantry during an offensive operation, they qualify as air assault operations.

Royal Netherlands Army 11 Airmobile Brigade prior to their departure to join the French-led NATO battlegroup in Romania. (Photo by Dutch MoD)

The brigade distinguishes a number of operational concepts. The use of helicopters that is limited to the transport of troops merely qualifies as an airmobile operation, while combined operations with the attack helicopters qualify as air mechanised operations. Lastly, the operational deployment of paratroopers are called airborne operations. Moreover, the brigade is capable of operating in a motorised capacity using heavily armed, light-armoured vehicles. Troops that have undergone specialised training are qualified to assist the army’s Special Operations Forces (SOF), the Korps Commandotroepen, as a designated support element. The SOF support functions as an integral part of a Special Operations Task Group (SOTG).

Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) is a NATO-allied forward-deployed defense and deterrence military force in Central and Northern Europe. This posture in Central Europe through Poland and Northern Europe through Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, is in place in order to protect and reassure the security of NATO’s Central and Northern European member states on NATO’s eastern flank. Following Russia’s invasion of Crimea, NATO’s member states agreed at the 2016 Warsaw summit to forward deploy four multinational battalion battle groups to areas most likely to be attacked. The four multinational battalion battle groups are based in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, and led by the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and the United States. With the invasion and ongoing war in Ukraine, NATO has established four more multinational battalion battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.