Tasks in the Caribbean

The Netherlands armed forces maintain a permanent military presence in the Caribbean for the performance of military tasks and a number of policing tasks. Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are independent constituent countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. And Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are special Dutch municipalities.

The Netherlands armed forces in the Caribbean contribute to providing security on land and at sea.

Military tasks

The authorities of the Netherlands Antilles can ask the Ministry of Defence for military support. Defence then assesses whether they can meet the support requirement. Common forms of military support are:

  • Lending support to the Dutch Caribbean Coastguard in the form of observation capability for surveillance of the waters around the islands;
  • Lending support to the police in maintaining public order or COVID measures;
  • Lending support to the judiciary with specialist search teams and explosives teams.

In addition, the 800 Defence personnel in the Caribbean have the following tasks:

  • protecting the borders of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands;
  • maintaining the national and international rule of law in the context of, for example:
    • the international drug trade. Because of the location of its islands, the Caribbean is vulnerable to drug trafficking by sea. The Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) is part of Joint Inter Agency Task Force South, an international organisation that conducts operations to counter drug trafficking.
    • The RNLN’s military units provide humanitarian assistance and/or maintain public order following disasters or accidents caused by the passage of hurricanes, for example. Each year, from 1 June to 1 December the navy is on standby to perform these tasks.
    • The RNLN also assists in search and rescue missions in Caribbean waters.

Police tasks for the Dutch Caribbean

The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee also performs police tasks in the Dutch Caribbean. They do this for Dutch, Curaçaoan and Aruban military personnel and at military locations.

This involves the following police tasks:

  • Fighting crime in collaboration with the local police and the Coastguard.
  • Border control on the islands of the Dutch Caribbean.
  • All relevant police tasks at Flamingo Airport on Bonaire.
  • Performing basic police tasks on Saba and Sint Eustatius in collaboration with the local police.
  • Assisting in border control and the monitoring of aliens on Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Aruba.
  • Fighting serious violent crime, drug-related crime and migration crime on Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Aruba.

Video: the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee in the Caribbean