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Marine Corps exercise Soesterberg May 18, 2018
Latest update: May 2018
One year of training came together for 100 Netherlands marines at Soesterberg on May 18, 2018. Training of the marines takes place in both The Netherlands and for specific terrain and weather conditions in Scotland (mountain), Norway (arctic) and South America (jungle). Except learning or developing to operate in different conditions each exercise brings together the men who make of the units of the Korps Mariniers (Marine Corps). Soesterberg marked the final exercise for this unit bringing together everything learned in the past year for all ranks and included its medical team as well as operating with the helicopters of the RNLAF Defence Helicopter Command (DHC).

The marines unit was unaware of the exercise until they were called to duty only 48 hours prior to the exercise, as would have been the case when they were assigned to the NATO Rapid Reaction Force. From that moment they had to plan their mission which involved a target at the former Soesterberg Air Base located near the national military museum. Two DHC helicopters supported the marines mission and left their home base Gilze-Rijen. They first landed at the Leusderheide (one of the Royal Netherlands Army exercise locations and low flying area for the DHC) located a few miles east of Soesterberg to pick up the marines. From the Leusderheide the mission started with the Chinook leading the Cougar. To surprise the enemy the helicopters flew just a few feet above the ground using 'old' runway 27 then banking sharp to the right roughly using the 'old' runway 31 towards the landing zone (LZ) which was established in a sport known as the tank arena*. The Chinook landed to disembark the marines while the Cougar positioned itself overhead providing coverage from the air. As soon as the marines cleared the LZ the Chinook departed and joined its colleague to keep an eye from the sky. To support the marines on the ground both helicopters were equipped with door mounted guns. Additionally the Chinooks rear ramp had also a machine gun installed. On the ground the marines set up a perimeter as well as a command post while part of the team entered a building to liberate hostages. Once the area was secured and fighting ceased the Cougar was called in to extract the liberated people. It landed just behind the NMM on the Verlengde Palzterweg. The mission was completed with the marines falling back to the LZ where they were extracted by the Chinook.

* The National Military Museum (NMM - Nationaal Militair Museum) opened its doors on December 13, 2014. Its collection came from the air force and army museums and has an inside and outside display. It build an arena where demonstrations with tanks and other vehicles are given.

Thanks to Korps Mariniers personnel for the information.
Photo gallery
Chinook on approach to the LZ (rw 31). The Cougar flew behind its colleague and remained overhead providing cover.
Chinook departing with the Cougar turning to make his approach to the LZ Marines have set a perimeter 
with their colleagues on their way to set up another perimeter to cover the forces on the ground.
Mission discussed in the command post  with liberated hostages moving to the LZ at the Verlengde Paltzerweg to be
extracted by the Cougar. Cougar cleared the tree tops and departs  Marines in formation at the LZ waiting
for the Chinook to extract them from the LZ. Smoked popped, all clear for the Chinook 
to safely land at the 'tank arena'  with the sand causing a brownout condition 
All aboard. Final check and departure  after completing the mission with the Cougar on its final approach to the LZ.