The Royal Netherlands Ground Army (Koninklijke Landmacht) has a relatively short history. Europe during the Dark Ages was a hot bed of numerous Empires and Kingdoms which came and went, borders and territories emerging and disappearing through warfare and political marriages. Not until the 17Th Century did most of Northern Europe take shape into what we are now familiar with. The Netherlands as the Country it is today, did not actually emerge until after 1813, when Belgium (which was until that time part province of France, and part province of the Netherlands, which in turn was under rule of Napoleon Bonaparte's France), was finally instated as a sovereign Country.
Being a small and predominantly seafaring nation, the emphasis in The Netherlands was always on the Navy, and The Netherlands's most famous exploits are those of its 17th Century Navy Commanders, such as Maarten Tromp, Piet Hein, and perhaps the most famous, Michiel de Ruyter. The Dutch Army by comparison, was always a small affair, and invariably fought in the various wars over the centuries, as part of one coalition against another coalition. The most well known campaign of those is probably the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, in which the Dutch Cavalry played a significant part under command of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo.
Because of the Dutch's weariness of the bloodshed of war, and a preference to solve disputes through diplomacy, a state of neutrality was sought and indeed this Neutrality was respected during the first World War. This caused the Dutch Governments to totally neglect the Dutch Army to the point where the call for total disarmament grew louder in the 1930's. The result of this policy was catastrophic, as the Dutch Army had no modern equipment (indeed, many of the fixed defences still had 18th century muzzle loading cannon) to attempt to halt the German Army which invaded in 1940. Even so, it took five days of dogged defense and the devastating bombardment of Rotterdam to force the Dutch surrender. A small number of the Dutch Military managed to flee to Britain, and it was here that a single Brigade, the "Princes Irene Brigade", was instated and equipped with modern Allied materiel and played a small, but important part in the liberation of North Western Europe during '44-'45. After the war, and after the disbandment of the KNIL (Koninklijk Nederlands Indies Leger), a new Army was built and has played its part in NATO and to this day in various peace keeping missions throughout the world.
This volume (7013)
in the Tankograd series Missions & Manoeuvres
, deals with the vehicles of the modern Royal Netherlands Ground Army from 1996 till today. An accompanying earlier volume, (7007)
, has a similar content but from 1963 till 1996. A review of that volume by Jim Rae can be found here: "Nederlandse Troepen"
This book is a photographic collection of virtually all types of vehicles that are currently used by the Dutch Army both at home and abroad. The only omission is the Koninklijke Mariniers (Royal Marines) in Norway, where they exercise Artic Warfare together with the British Royal Marine Commandos. I can only assume that the reason for this is that the Mariniers are part of the Royal Dutch Navy and, as such, technically fall outside the scope of this book.
The book contains 129 colour photos and a brief history of the reorganization of the Dutch Army since 1992 when, after the fall of the Iron Curtain and the disbandment of the Warsaw Pact, the requirements for the Military changed drastically. The large armoured divisions of the Cold War were now practically obsolete as a major war on (central) European soil was increasingly unlikely. The need for overseas deployment of NATO troops called for a different Order of Battle, and saw the birth of the Air Mobile Brigade, as well as a close co-operation with the German Federal Army.
The first seven pages of the book are given to the written part of the contents and are in the usual layout of German text in the left hand column and the English text in the right hand column. The English (translated) text contains a number of typos which can be especially confusing when a date is wrong and the grammar and sentence building sometimes has that peculiar 'translated' feel. The text explains, in chronological order, the changes in the Organization and Command structure and the changes in the Order of Battle that ensued. A full Order of Battle for the individual operational Brigades is complemented by a detailed, illustrated Order of Battle for the 43 Gemechaniseerde Brigade, which is stationed in Havelte.
The remaining 56 pages, plus the inside of both front and back cover, are then filled with colour photographs of the various vehicles. There are no individual chapters and no apparent sequence is followed, but all photos of similar vehicles are
printed together. This can make looking up a specific photo a bit troublesome.
All the photos are sharp, and show the vehicles to their best. Most photos are 'posed' three-quarter front or rear shots, shot when the vehicle was evidently parked up. Most vehicles are photographed in a clean state, either at barracks, or during exercises, giving a good view of the camouflage and general appearance of vehicles and equipment.
On the other hand, there are also plenty of 'action' photos, mainly of deployments in Afghanistan, and from the exercises in Germany. These show an eclectic range of (armoured) vehicles, some sporting improvised mud camouflage, and some just plain covered in mud. These pictures are a great reference for modellers who want to weather their models to extremes. The pictures of the AFV's with camouflage netting are very useful, especially the ones that show the unusual use of strips of hessian to complement the normal camo nets. A nice bonus are the two photos of the new Boxer AFV, a joint venture vehicle that is to come in service in 2011, and the new CV9035 MKIII IFV.
The captions, which are bilingual, are informative and accurate. I did note that on occasion the German captions contain more detailed information, but on the whole the captions are wholly translated. The captions document the vehicle shown, and when known, the unit it belongs to, the location of the picture, and the occasion.
As noted, photographs are not separated in chapters, something which would have made it easier to navigate. As it is, a sequence of sorts is followed, starting with the Mercedes-Benz four wheel drive (which replaced the Land Rover), and ending with the Leopard 2a6, as currently deployed. A notable omission is the complete lack of photographs of motorcycles. The lack of close-up detail photographs, or interior shots, is common with all Tankograd titles. The typos and occasional odd grammar can be confusing if you (can) only read the English text, and could benefit from a proof reader who has English as his or her first language.
As usual, you can't really go wrong with a book from Tankograd. This volume gives a very good overview of the vehicles that are currently in service with the Dutch Army. A large number of the vehicles in this book are available as 'plastic' models, in both 1/35 and 1/72 scale. The photos are useful as a painting and weathering reference for modellers, although the lack of close-up shots makes it less helpful for those who are detailing a model. Highly Recommended.