Dutch military contribution in Iraq

Dutch military personnel are training Iraqi and Kurdish forces to fight the ISIS terrorist organisation on the ground. Training is taking place at barracks and other fixed training locations in Iraq. This is being done with other countries, led by the United States.

Materiel and personnel

In total, the Netherlands contributes:

  • 150 military personnel (trainers, advisers and security and logistics personnel);
  • 35-man force protection for the Belgian F-16 detachment
  • Staff and liaison officers at various headquarters.

From February 2017, a KDC-10 tanker aircraft supported the coalition. The Dutch aircraft refuelled fighter aircraft in the air, enabling these to make longer flights during missions. The deployment lasted for 6 weeks.

Training Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers

Dutch military trainers will assist in training Iraqi and Kurdish armed forces for the fight against ISIS on the ground. Training will take place at a number of barracks and other training locations in Iraq. Dutch military personnel will not be involved in the fighting on the ground.

Training will be conducted by a brigade training team, a Special Operations Forces training team and support personnel. These units normally train regular military personnel and special forces.

There is also a mobile training team that focuses on training smaller groups in preparation for specific operations. Where necessary, training is given close to the front line. Dutch military personnel are not involved in the fighting on the ground.

American command and control

Good coordination of the mission is essential, owing to the fact that there are a large number of countries taking part. Several Dutch personnel will carry out duties at the diplomatic, political and military levels during the course of the operation. The overall operation will be conducted on the basis of the American command and control structure.

A Dutch planning team is at the American command centre CENTCOM to assist with the strategic planning of the operation. In addition, the Netherlands will post staff and liaison officers to operational headquarters in Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, thus allowing Dutch involvement in the detail of the planning process.

F-16s for airstrikes

From October 2014 to July 2016, the Netherlands supplied F-16s for airstrikes, at first above Iraq, later also above eastern Syria. This was known as Air Task Force Middle East, part of an international coalition.

The airstrikes were especially intended to disrupt the supply lines and eliminate strategic ISIS locations, such as camps and fuel depots. The fighter aircraft also provided air support to ground troops fighting ISIS.

Air Task Force Middle East flew more than 2,100 missions, in which weapons were used over 1,800 times. This involved bombardments with precision ammunition, whereby it was important to prevent collateral damage to civilian targets.

Belgium has been continuing the airstrikes since 28 June 2016 with 6 F-16s. Dutch military personnel protect the Belgian detachment.