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Netherlands Armed Forces


The term order of battle (ORBAT) has, in modern use, two meanings. In military organisation an order of battle provides the identification, strength, command structure, and disposition of the personnel, units, and equipment of a military force.1 In military operations it describes the manner in which a military force is organised and grouped for a specific mission.2 This website aims to do both for the Netherlands armed forces of 1985. Since these forces never went into battle the emphasis is on military organisation, with some attention for operational plans, tactical doctrine, operational readiness and other factors that influenced the Netherlands' military capabilities.
This website also includes unit organisation and equipment data for those forces. In military organisation there is a clear distinction between an order of battle and a table of organisation and equipment (TOE). The latter basically provides order-of-battle information about a standardised unit type, e.g. the infantry battalion, the engineer company etc., but in much more detail. These standard units form the building blocks of an order of battle. A number of standard units grouped under a single command, a brigade for example, is usually called a formation.
The distinction between ORBAT and TOE is not always that clear-cut however. In military operations, tactical doctrine may prescribe standard units to exchange subunits to form combined-arms battle groups tailored to specific missions: in other words, to form an ORBAT at TOE level.3 On the other hand, in military organisation the brigade, firmly belonging to the order of battle domain, is usually standardised to a high degree. On this website the ORBAT and TOE domains are interlinked as much as possible, allowing the visitor to navigate through the organisation from NATO command down to team level.

Order of Battle: Typical Page Structure

The order of battle pages are typically structured as follows, from top to bottom:
  1. Organisational chart
  2. Tabular data
  3. Notes
  4. Text section (not always present)
  5. Footnotes
1. The organisational chart displays the organisation in NATO military symbology. The symbols are arranged hierarchically showing, from top to bottom: the subject unit, then its command (staff) subunit, and then the subordinate unit elements, which are often likewise dissected into their command and subordinate elements. Symbols in blue link to a page or section that displays the unit type (TOE) or the individual unit or formation (ORBAT) in more detail. Moving your mouse over a symbol (mouseover) will show the official Dutch military abbreviation for that unit, for example "12 Tkbat" for "12 Tankbataljon".4

2. The tabular data provides further information about the units shown in the organisational chart, in the same order, from top to bottom and from left to right. Features:
  • Moving your mouse over a unit name will show the original Dutch unit name in full. In the case of infantry and cavalry units its regimental or corps affiliation is included in the form of its official abbreviation, for example "12 Tankbataljon RHVS" for "12 Tankbataljon Regiment Huzaren Van Sytzama". 
  • Letters between [brackets] refer to the notes section further down the page. 
  • The location column shows the unit's peacetime location. When displayed in blue the locations of that unit's mobilisation centre and equipment stores (mobilisation complex) are shown on mouseover. This also applies to mobilisable units, which are shown as having no peacetime location. 
  • Personnel strengths in the peace strength and war strength columns are given in either of the following formats. For the Royal Army: officers/sub-officers/corporals and enlisted (total), for example 1/9/34 (44), or: officers/sub-officers/corporals and soldiers/civilians (total), for example 1/9/34/2 (46). So in the latter case the unit has one officer, nine sub-officers, thirty-four corporals and soldiers, and two civilians; making forty-six men in total. For the Royal Navy: as before, but with corporals counted as sub-officers.5 It will be noted that all strengths are authorised strengths, not actual headcounts.  
3. The notes provide additional information about such matters as personnel composition, equipment, training or operational (wartime) role.
4. A page may include one or more text sections about such matters as operational plans, procedures, reorganisations, or contain other background information.
5. Each page is concluded by a footnotes section. Footnotes primarily contain source references, but they often also include additional background information or deliberations of the author. Source references are sometimes redundant in number as they serve not only to justify the presentation and make its sources retrievable, they are also intended to encourage and facilitate further study. Whenever possible they include external links to online publications.
Source references are given in their own language and in shortened form; all references are listed in full on the Sources page. For example: "Hoffenaar en Schoenmaker, Met de blik" refers to the book
Met de blik naar het oosten. De Koninklijke Landmacht 1945-1990 by J. Hoffenaar and B. Schoenmaker. Archives and collections are referenced by their official abbreviation, for example "NL-HaNA" for the Nationaal Archief in Den Haag and "NIMH" for the Nationaal Instituut voor Militaire Historie in Den Haag. Field manuals (voorschriften) are also referenced by their official abbreviated designation; "VS 11-50" for example refers to the army field manual Voorschrift nr. 11-50 Het legerkorpsrayonverbindingssysteem.
As a rule source references are given in this order: archives and collections (official documents), military manuals (official documents), books, magazine articles, websites.
For repeated references Latin abbreviations are used, as follows:
  • Ibid. (ibidem, 'in the same place') is used when references to the same work, document of archive inventory follow each other without any intervening references, even when they occur in more than one footnote. Changes in page numbers or document designations, if any, follow "ibid." A second reference to the book mentioned above would then simply be "ibid.", and "ibid., 356" if the reference is to page 356 of that book. 
  • Op. cit. (opere citato, 'in the work cited') is used when there are intervening references. It is preceded by the shortened name of the autor or archive, and usually followed by a page, volume or document designation. In our example, "Hoffenaar en Schoenmaker, op. cit., 356."
  • Loc. cit. (loco citato, 'in the place cited') is used when the reference is to the same page, volume or document of a work or archive inventory mentioned earlier. Hence, "loc. cit." is never followed by a page or document designation. So here "Hoffenaar en Schoenmaker, loc. cit." would again refer to page 356 of the same book.
The Unit Organisation and Equipment Page

On the Unit Organisation and Equipment page all TOE data is compiled. The unit type sections have basically the same structure as the ORBAT pages, but instead of tabular data they include a dissective description of the unit type and its main equipment. In those cases where there was only one unit of a certain type, that unit is listed by its individual name; for example 104 Observation and Reconnaissance Company rather than "The Observation and Reconnaissance Company". As on the ORBAT pages, all personnel strengths are authorised strengths.


This website is a work in progress, over time pages will be added and updated. All updates are listed on the Home page; 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.

Hans Boersma
September 2011, March 2018

1. NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions (AAP-06), 1998.
2. VS 2-7200, 103 (1972).
3. See Unit Organisation and Equipment, Mixed Battalions and Company Teams.
4. The mouseover function, also called "hover" or "tooltip", tends not to work on touch screens. This website does not (and will not) support touch screen devices. 
5.Unlike in the Royal Army, in the Royal Navy (including the Marine Corps) corporals were (and are) classed as sub-officers. Information kindly provided by Marine Sergeant-Major A. Van der Pluijm (Rtd.), July 2020. Website Marineschepen.nl, Rangen en standen van de Koninklijke Marine.