Netherlands Armed Forces
ORDER OF BATTLE
The two main elements of this website are the order of battle pages and the unit organisation and equipment page. The order of battle pages typically consist of an organisational chart and a data table that adds further information such as unit strengths and locations. Their main features are as follows:
As the above shows, throughout the site much use is made of the "point your mouse to" tooltip function as a means to provide translations and additional information without overcrowding the page. Please note that presence of this feature is indicated only when the information concerns something other than what is mentioned above.
This website is a work in progress; over time pages will be added and updated. All updates are listed here; minor text changes, administrative or design changes are usually not reported, nor are additions to the sources page and the unit symbols page. Dates are given in the day-month-year format.
Unfortunately some web browsers, notably Google Chrome, Opera and Safari, may render this website incorrectly. This will probably remain so, as on this end sorting out the problem is unlikely ever to take precedence over adding or improving content. Page rendering is regularly tested in Firefox and Internet Explorer. Should you not want to use either of those, then you might want to install the Firefox-based K-Meleon browser to access this website with; it is both light (19 MB installed) and fast, and there isn't a new version every week.
The main primary sources for this website are the Royal Army's two official orders of battle for 1985, kept at the Netherlands Institute of Military History in The Hague; one per 1 July and one per 23 December. Unless stated otherwise, all information on the order of battle pages is derived from those documents, as are the unit strengths on the unit organisation and equipment page. All unit strengths are taken from the July document; any significant changes in strength that took place between July and December are indicated in the notes.
Another main primary source is Army Plan 149, kept by the Semi-Static Archive Services of the Ministry of Defence in Rijswijk. This plan set out a vast re-equipping and reorganisation programme for all cavalry units which was effectuated between 1983 and 1988, and I have found its periodic realisation memoranda to be the best source for determining what equipment specific tank and reconnaissance units had at a specific time. For a comprehensive list of sources used please refer to the sources page.
My interest in this subject was first generated by playing and modding the computer wargame North German Plain '85 and later revising the Dutch part of its order of battle for the sequel title Danube Front '85.1 It made me conscious not only of the fact that an entire era had passed into history but also that it had, seemingly, already passed out of public memory. Whilst the armed forces of the Netherlands are now effectively beginning to fade away under the steady erosion of twenty years worth of budget cuts, it seems unlikely that they will once again attain the military posture of the late1980s in the near or even distant future. This website hopes to make that posture visible in its entirety — as a shadow from the war of shadows that was the Cold War.
The idea of turning the material I had collected over the years into a comprehensive order of battle website was stimulated by the work of O.W. Dragoner, Alan Young, Rogier Peeters and Leo Niehorster.
I would like to thank Willem Smit of the Netherlands Institute of Military History and Rokus van den Bout of the Semi-Static Archive Services of the Ministry of Defence for the help they provided.
1. Hence the year 1985, otherwise significant in Cold War history mainly for Mikhail Gorbachev becoming General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union — not the end, but the beginning of the end of the Cold War. For this project the year 1985 is significant insofar that during the mid-1980s the Netherlands armed forces, especially the army, were in the process of implementing large scale modernisation programmes that came with large scale reorganisations, which I think is interesting in its own right. In 1985 most of these programmes were about halfway, and this order of battle therefor shows the armed forces partly in a state of transition — gearing up one last time.