The Dutch have a long military history that dates back to the 17th century. They became one of the world’s major maritime powers and established settlements around the globe. The Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed in 1815 after a period of occupation by France had ended. Unfortunately, occupation came again in World War II. Although they fought valiantly when invaded by Nazi forces in 1940, the small nation was overrun. Dutch possessions in the Pacific were later attacked and occupied by Japanese forces. Although their homelands were occupied, the Dutch were not defeated. Free Netherlands forces in exile continued to fight the Axis powers, and underground resistance fighters fought against their occupiers.
When victory and freedom were achieved in 1945, the Netherlands resolved to maintain a well-organized, trained and equipped defense force. As part of this commitment to peace and security, the Netherlands became one of the founding member nations of NATO and later, the European Union. As a modern, industrialized nation, the Netherlands is a key global partner in the effort to foster and maintain security.
GLOCK Armed Forces
In common with most nations, the armed forces of the Netherlands are organized into different service branches. These include the Netherlands Army, Navy, Air Force and Military Police. There is also a Netherlands Marine Corps and Coast Guard, which are subdivisions of the Netherlands Navy. GLOCK pistols are used as the standard sidearm of all of these forces. The GLOCK 17 pistol chambered for the 9×19 cartridge was selected in order to meet NATO ammunition standardization specifications.
Captain Jørgen Geers, a spokesperson for the Netherlands Ministry of Defence, related the procurement history of the GLOCK pistol: “The GLOCK was placed into service in 1987 on a small scale. At that time, they were issued to the Royal Netherlands Military Police. Later, a project was started to replace all pistols throughout the armed forces. In 1993, the GLOCK was procured and issued to all branches. Over the years, different versions of the GLOCK have been added. Now we have the standard GLOCK 17, but also the maritime version, which can be used after emerging from the water. For training purposes, we acquired the GLOCK 17T Training pistol. It is a blue-colored version used in combination with special ammunition of limited power and a plastic bullet filled with a liquid dye. When personnel wear special protective clothing, it is safe to conduct realistic training.”
Captain Geers went on to detail some of the attributes of the GLOCK pistols in service in the Netherlands. “After being introduced, our personnel came to see the benefits of the GLOCK. It’s a strong, lightweight, easy-to-maintain pistol. Also, the total life cycle costs are lower because of the low price of spare parts and because less spare parts are needed.”
Since first entering the inventory and to this present day, GLOCK pistols have served with Dutch forces around the world in every imaginable climate. At present, GLOCK pistols are on-duty with Dutch forces on deployments both in the Netherlands and abroad for crisis management operations, humanitarian assistance and combat operations. In Afghanistan, the Dutch contingent of the International Security Assistance Force is supporting the Afghan government in maintaining security and combating terrorists. In addition, military personnel are involved in the reconstruction of the country. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dutch peacekeepers assigned to the European Union Force are working to prevent the former warring parties from engaging in conflict again and to monitor the observance of the Dayton Peace Accord. As part of anti-piracy operations off of Somalia, various ships of the Royal Netherlands Navy are deployed. The missions are Operation Atlanta (European Union) and Operation Ocean Shield (NATO). The naval presence is used to increase security of the shipping routes near Somalia by discouraging and disrupting acts of piracy.
Ready For Deployment
Each component of the Netherlands’ armed forces carries out different functions. As might be expected, each of the service components employs the GLOCK pistol for different uses. Army personnel must be ready to deploy for crisis management operations and for the general defense of NATO territory. It is important that army units can be deployed quickly. Where, when and how many army personnel need to be deployed is difficult to predict. Army personnel therefore receive the broadest possible training and are equipped with modern, high-quality equipment. This way a mission-specific force can be assembled for any conflict situation.
In conflict zones, army soldiers use the GLOCK pistol to supplement their primary weapon, such as the assault rifle or general-purpose machine gun. Should their primary weapon malfunction, the GLOCK pistol can be used for self-defense if necessary. Due to the asymmetrical tactics currently used by terrorists, Dutch soldiers are always potentially at risk. Terrorists often attack rear areas, base camps and other locations considered secure. While not engaged in field duty or carrying their primary weapons, soldiers often carry their GLOCK pistols as their personal-defense weapons. It is common to see Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan carrying their GLOCK pistols in drop-leg holsters while performing administrative tasks or even while involved in leisure activities.
The navy operates independently of national boundaries, and with a base at sea, it can be deployed and sustained anywhere in the world. On a daily basis, boarding parties deploy from Dutch warships to arrest pirates and to inspect vessels suspected of carrying contraband. Sailors and Marines conducting these hazardous assignments use GLOCK pistols. Pistols are the weapon of choice inside the confined spaces aboard ships and smaller watercraft. The corrosion-resistant properties of GLOCK pistols make them ideal for use in the saltwater environment navy personnel operate in.
The air force is a modern organization that provides support all over the world to military operations, peace support missions and humanitarian activities using a fleet of state-of-the-art airplanes and helicopters. Although most people would not associate pistols with air operations, they do in fact have an important role. GLOCK pistols are among the armament used to protect Dutch airfields and operating bases. In conflict areas, air force personnel use GLOCKs as personal-defense weapons. This includes the aircrew of both helicopters and airplanes—there is always the possibility that they may crash or be forced down in hostile territory.
The military police, which became an independent branch of the armed forces in 1998, is a law enforcement organization with military status. It conducts law enforcement support for all of the military branches as well as providing many other police services to the nation. Due to their function as police officers, the personnel use GLOCK pistols as their primary service weapon. Because of this, they were the first branch of the armed forces to be issued GLOCK pistols. Currently, they carry GLOCK 17 pistols and, to a lesser degree, the GLOCK 26, both chambered in 9×19 caliber.
The Dutch military police are responsible for domestic responsibilities, such as immigration enforcement, border patrol and guarding the National Mint. Close protection of government officials, members of the royal family and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands is also the responsibility of the military police. Military police officers can also be found on-duty protecting the nation’s airports, seaports and railroad system.
On a daily basis, the military forces of the Netherlands are helping stop terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking and piracy. GLOCK pistols serve as an essential piece of equipment used by the men and women of the Royal Netherlands army, navy, air force, Marines, coast guard and military police during these missions.