Home Last updated: 25.03.2017

Netherlands Armed Forces

Sleeplessness. Homer. Taut sails.
I read the list of ships down to the middle —
that long, drawn-out brood, that train of cranes
that once over Hellas rose.
Osip Mandelstam


Site Features

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:

Organisational chart
  • Blue unit symbols link to other order of battle pages providing a further breakdown of that unit or formation
  • Pointing your mouse to a unit symbol will display that unit's official military abbreviation (e.g. 11 Gnbat for 11 Geniebataljon), which in case of infantry and cavalry units includes that unit's regimental affiliation in its official abbreviated form (e.g. 12 Tkbat RHVS  for 12 Tankbataljon Regiment Huzaren Van Sytzama
  • Blue numbers in parentheses link to tabular data further down the page
Data table
  • Pointing your mouse to a unit name cell will display the Dutch unit name in full
  • Pointing your mouse to a unit location cell will display two further locations: the location (near) where that unit's mobilisable personnel would report to in case of mobilisation, and the location where their equipment was stored
  • Unit strengths are given either as officers/sub-officers/corporals and soldiers (total) or as officers/sub-officers/corporals and soldiers/civilians (total)
  • Letters in parentheses correspond to notes further down the page
The unit organisation and equipment page contains detailed breakdowns of generic unit types (e.g. an armoured infantry battalion), and consist of an organisational chart and a descriptive text.

As the above shows, throughout the site much use is made of the "point your mouse to" or mouseover 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.

Main Sources

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.

Hans Boersma
September 2011

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.