Marines of the 23rd Infantry Company conducted an exercise with helicopters last week. The exercise focused on the planning of operations in which the Marine Corps and the Royal Netherlands Air Force work together. For this occasion, the marine infantrymen, who normally operate from the sea, had chosen the Oirschotse Heide exercise area in the southern Netherlands as their base of operations.
The exercise was started on Monday morning from Gilze-Rijen air base by 300 Squadron, the unit operating the RNLAF's Cougar helicopters. After the planning process had been started, the marines combat unit was flown to the Oirschotse Heide aboard one Chinook and two Cougar helicopters.
On Wednesday, the marines conducted a brief and swift raid on an exercise area between the towns of Budel and Weert. During this action, two hostages were freed and transferred to the local authorities. Today, the last day of the exercise, the unit neutralised an enemy stronghold at De Peel air base.
"The cooperation with the Royal Netherlands Air Force has been very satisfactory. The exercise offered us a good look behind the scenes of Defence Helicopter Command", said Deputy Company Commander Captain Patrick Biemans. "Given the recent cutbacks, this might have been the last time that we use Cougars for troop movements. That is a pity, for this helicopter is extremely suitable for this type of operation."
Biemans: "In general, marines operate from ships and transfer to the area of deployment using landing craft or helicopters. The amphibian transport ship HNLMS Johan de Witt is currently undergoing maintenance in Den Helder. For this reason, a different base of operations was chosen.
Cougars at sea
Since last year, a number of Cougar crews possess flight deck qualifications, which means they are capable of conducting maritime operations from amphibious transport ships.
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