By Heather Graham-Ashley, III Corps and Fort Hood Public AffairsJune 4, 2012
FORT HOOD, Texas (June 4, 2012) -- Fort Hood's 21st Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat) recently hosted the Netherlands' Royal Guard for five weeks of combat training.
Dutch infantry troops from the King's Company were the most recent to complete training at Fort Hood, in spite of thunderstorms that cancelled relevant exercises.
Despite weather-related setbacks, especially losing their mission rehearsal at Brownwood because of severe weather during the allotted training time, the Dutch were able to complete their culminating exercise and final validation requirement, a combined arms live-fire exercise with troops from the Royal Netherlands Air Force and Army at Fort Hood, May 20.
"We lost half our training value when we lost Brownwood," Dutch Maj. Ray Van Veen, S-3 for ground operations, Joint Netherlands Training Detachment, 21st Cav. Bde., said. "Still, the overall training level was not affected."
Van Veen is at Fort Hood as part of the permanent Dutch detachment under 21st Cav. Bde.'s Foreign Military Training program. He handles ground troops' training when Dutch Soldiers from the Royal Netherlands Army come to Fort Hood.
Typically five Dutch army units each year come to Fort Hood for the five-week training.
"Here, they get combat training they don't usually get," Van Veen said. "Fort Hood gives them a deployment environment."
Soldiers from Company A, The King's Company, were a little different than the normal Dutch air assault and airborne troops that train at Fort Hood.
"They are the Royal Guard's unit. In war, they were commanded by the Crown Prince of the Netherlands," Van Veen said. "Now they are a regular air assault unit."
In operating environments, the unit works with Dutch Special Forces and also serves as a recruiting pool for Special Forces because of their specialized training, Van Veen said.
"They are the closer to Special Forces than any regular army unit," Van Veen said. "It takes too much time to train regular army troops to Special Forces, so they recruit from units like these."
While at Fort Hood, the troops practiced for combat and humanitarian missions, training to go from firing to smiling, Van Veen said.
"We wanted to give them a reflection of reality," he said.
The troops worked closely in joint air-ground scenarios with their countrymen from the Royal Netherlands Air Force, who also are training at Fort Hood.
"Aviation is tied to ground forces," RNAF Maj. Jereon Van Bruchem, air operations for the JNTD, said. "They are bound to each other."
The beginning weeks of their time here were spent working on individual and small team skills at the ranges and in planning. Training progressed through to the final air-ground exercise.
Van Bruchem worked the air and Van Veen coordinated the ground troops. They all worked together May 20 for the large-scale combined exercise that paired AH-64 Apache helicopters, with ground forces delivered via assault helicopters and ground vehicles.
For many of the Dutch troops, the final exercise was the largest they have seen when not on deployment.
Room to test and train on their capabilities such as air assault, mortars and small-arms firing is something Dutch Soldiers in garrison do not always have access to in the Netherlands.
"I have never had training like this before," said Sgt. 1st Class Siebe Van Staveren, a medic. "It's nice to have a lot of space and a lot of possibilities for training."