11th Airmobile Brigade (Netherlands)

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11th Airmobile Brigade
11 Luchtmobiele Brigade '7 december'
Embleem 11 Luchtmobiele Brigade.svg
TypeAir Assault
Light Infantry
RoleVersatile Rapid Reaction Force
Initial Entry Force
Size4,500 regulars
Part ofRapid Forces Division
Motto(s)Nec Temere, Nec Timide (Neither rashly nor timidly)
Brigade general Ron Smits

The 11th Airmobile Brigade (Dutch: 11 Luchtmobiele Brigade) is a rapid and light infantry unit within the Dutch and German forces and can be deployed anywhere on the globe within five to twenty days to defend its own or allied territory, protect the international rule of law and support law enforcement, disaster relief and humanitarian aid. Deployment can be as part of NATO or the United Nations.

The brigade got its title of '7 december' when the First Division 7 December was disbanded in 2004.[1]

Since 2014, the 11th Airmobile Brigade has been part of the German Army Rapid Forces Division. When the Airmobile Brigade, an Army brigade, operates integrated with the Dutch Defence Helicopter Command, an Air Force command, they form the '11th Air Manoeuvre Brigade' (11 AMB).

Helicopters from the Defence Helicopter Command support 11th Airmobile Brigade with troop transports and the transport of weapons and materials. Attack helicopters are used for reconnaissance, to give air support, and to provide cover for infantry on the ground. When helicopters are used in combination with infantry as parts of an offensive operation it is called an 'Air assault' operation. When troopcarrier helicopters are just used to bring infantry from A to B it is called an 'Air mobile' operation. With attack helicopters performing on their own it is called an 'Air mechanized' operation. When paratroopers are deployed it is called an 'Airborne' operation. The brigade is also able to operate 'Motorized' with heavily armed light armored vehicles. Specially trained units are also able to assist Special Forces as a 'Special Operations Task Group' (SOTG).

In 2003 in Poland (exercise Gainful Sword), 2012 in the Netherlands (exercise Peregrine Sword) and 2014 in Hungary the brigade had and succeeded for its operational readiness test to (re)apply for its 'Air assault' status. Passing the test it proved to be able to run a brigade operation with the Air Mobile Brigade and Defence Helicopter Command integrated as the 11th Air Manoeuvre Brigade.


The world's security situation changed drastically after the fall of the Berlin wall in '89. In the Netherlands the need arose for a rapid reaction force for global operations covering the entire warfare spectrum. In 1992 the 11 Air Manoeuvre Brigade was created. It became unfavorable for the Dutch government to send drafted personnel on missions so this brigade was put together with volunteers from other units. After 10 years of pioneering, the brigade got its operational readiness state in October 2003.

The emblem of 11th Airmobile Brigade is a diving Falcon on a maroon shield with two crossed swords underneath. The color is related to the color of the beret. Air assault infantry distinguish themselves by the beret and soldiers are allowed to wear it after completing the Air Assault infantry training. The maroon beret is the international standard for air landing troops. The EM stands for Expeditionare Macht, or Expeditionary Force, which is a tradition derived from the emblem of the First Division 7 December.


Change of command from brigade-general Otto van Wiggen to brigade-general Nico Geerts
From Till Rank Name Remarks
1990 1993 Brigadier L.G. Dijkstra
1993 1995 Brigadier Jan Willem Brinkman
1995 1996 Brigadier G.J.M. Bastiaans
1996 1998 Brigadier J.R. Karssing
1998 2000 Brigadier Rein van Vels
2000 2001 Brigadier Leen Noordzij
2001 2003 Brigadier Peter van Uhm
2003 2006 Brigadier Koen Gijsbers
2006 2010 Brigadier Marc van Uhm
2009 2010 Colonel Willy Brons temporary during tour of duty of Marc van Uhm
2010 2012 Brigadier Otto van Wiggen
2012 2014 Brigadier Nico Geerts
2014 2017 Brigadier Kees Matthijssen
2017 now Brigadier Ron Smits


11 Air Manoeuvre Brigade is part of the Dutch forces and therefore shares its aims;

  • protection of its own and allied territory, including the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba;
  • protection and improvement of the international rule of law and stability;
  • support of civil authorities with law enforcement, disaster relief and humanitarian aid, both national and international

11 Air Manoeuvre Brigade is known for its ability to be rapidly deployed and its mobility. Operations can be performed either by foot, using light vehicles or using airlift capabilities (helicopters or airplanes) from the Airforce. A share of the brigade (three paracompanies, three reconnaissance platoons, the pathfinderplatoon and some of the combatsupport and supportunits) can be deployed as paratroopers.

These forms of airlanding make the brigade effective in operating behind the enemy frontline to occupy strategic locations like bridges till being relieved by mechanized infantry and cavalry. Another task is the destruction of strategic targets, evacuation of personnel, collection of intelligence during raids with infiltration and exfiltration either by ground or by air.


Organogram of the 11th Airmobile Brigade

The 11th Airmobile Brigade is made up by the following units:

All of the units of the Airmobile Brigade except for the national reserve battalion have demonstrated the operational readiness to perform air assaults, therefore the abbreviation AASLT is often added to the name of the company or the battalion.

Previously, the brigade also included 11 Mortar company and 11 Air Defense company, but these were disbanded after the budget cuts in April 2011. Their tasks have been taken over by the artillery and anti-aircraft artillery.

20 National Reserves Battalion come under the command of the 11th Airmobile Brigade in 2012. A colonel from the western regional military command is part of the brigade staff and commands national operations in the provinces of North Holland, South Holland en Utrecht, which are all part of the area of responsibility of the 11th Airmobile Brigade.

Physical locations[edit]

Organization of a battalion[edit]

Dutch Para Wing A

An infantry battalion is made up of a staff, three infantry companies and a patrol company. The battalions are the actual 'boots on the ground'. The infantry has a wide variety of means to execute its tasks and carries enough equipment in its backpacks to stay in the field for 72 hours. Every infantry battalion has a para company (A-coy with 11 Infantry battalion, C-coy with 12 Infantry battalion and C-coy with 13 Infantry battalion).

Organization of an infantry company[edit]

Organogram infantry company

An infantry company consist of a staff, three infantry platoons, a mortar squad, a long range marksmen squad, JTAC / FAC, maintenance personnel, medical personnel, supply personnel and administrative personnel. Its size averages 130 personnel and is led by a company commander, a captain, who is assisted by his 2IC, an experienced lieutenant, a company sergeant-major and training sergeant-major.

Organization of a patrol company[edit]

Organogram patrol company

11 Air Manoeuvre Brigade has patrol companies since 2011. A patrol company consists of a staff, two patrol platoons, a reconnaissance platoon and a battalion's role 1 medical unit.

During missions in Afghanistan the need for independently operating units with high mobility and great firepower arose. The light 'Luchtmobiel Speciaal Voertuigen' from 11 Staff/Anti-tank company were replaced by Mercedes Benz 4x4 vehicles which are rebuilt ambulances. The new vehicles are manned by three instead of two infantrymen and equip a Browning M2 .50 machinegun, two light Minimi 5.56 machineguns and an OGill (Spike) medium range anti-tank missile and advanced optics. This setup makes independent and offensive operating possible. An area can rapidly be dominated and stabilized. The pilot with new equipment, setup in personnel and new tactics took 1.5 years before becoming the official organization.

The reconnaissance platoons are the eyes and ears of the battalion commander. As a platoon or in squads they try to figure out the strength, size and intentions of enemy forces.

Pathfinder platoon 'Madju'[edit]

Embleem Pathfinders

The Pathfinder platoon is part of the brigade's staff support company. The pathfinders are brigade recce's and specialists in reconnaissance and marking of dropzones and landingzones for helicopters and paratroopers. They are also able to operate for Tactical Air Landing Operations and operate in small squads of 6 men. Their deployment can be by foot, parachute, helicopter (spie-rig and fastrope) or vehicle.

11 Engineer Company[edit]

The engineers company consist of engineer recce's, advanced search teams, engineer platoons and a construction squad. The company supports with mobility and counter-mobility. Mobility support enables friendly troops to move around unobstructed by detecting and removing IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices), clearing minefields or building bridges. Counter-mobility obstructs enemy troops by putting up obstacles. The company operates integrated with the infantry battalions. The engineer recce's can operate with scuba gear and makes them perfect to operate in and close to water. The recce's and advanced search teams are part of the EARS platoon (Engineers Advanced Reconnaissance and Search).

11 Maintenance company[edit]

The soldiers with the maintenance company repair motorcycles, 4x4's, trucks, armament and electronics. They are able to not only do repairs on base, but also in the field. Mechanics can apply battle damage repairs close to the frontline.

11 Supply company[edit]

11 Bevoorradingscompagnie

The supply company organizes the supply of ammunition, food, water and spare parts wherever the brigade operates. There is a wide variety of vehicles available, from large trucks and forklifts to small airmobile vehicles (LSV). The company also has an important role in transporting personnel and materials to the area of operations by helicopter and manages all needed equipment to do so.


  1. ^ "Organisatie" [Organization]. 7DecemberDivisie.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 29 May 2018. Op 1 januari 2004 werd 1 Divisie '7 December' opgeheven maar de naam leeft voort in de 11 LMB AASLT "7 December"

External links[edit]