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Dutch Marines receive coveted Green Beret as UK and Netherlands Amphibious Force celebrations continue

3 April 2023
Six Dutch Marines were presented with coveted Green Berets at the end of the infamous yomp across Dartmoor.

The ‘30 miler’ – a march of eight hours or under across the moor in full fighting order and carrying kit in their Bergen rucksacks – is the final test of the All-Arms Commando Course, which must be completed to earn the coveted icon of cloak-and-dagger warfare. 

As part of 50th anniversary celebrations of the UK and Netherlands Amphibious Force (UKNLAF), Lieutenant Colonel Oscar van der Veen of the Netherlands Marines Corps presented his countrymen and their fellow newly-qualified commandos with their green berets. 

The two Marine Corps ¬– and the Royal Navy and Royal Netherlands Navy – have deep ties which are embodied by the joint amphibious force, which was formed in 1973 and is Europe’s oldest integrated force.

Joint training, shared values and equipment are all part of the UKNLAF – including a long history of Dutch Marines taking on the 13-week All-Arms Commando Course.

“It was 23 years ago when I was awarded my Green Beret,” said Lt Col van der Veen.

“But the moment is the same for these young Marines, you can see it in their eyes, you can see the pain but also the pride they have for their achievements.

“It is humbling to look back on some of the images of what it was like 50 years ago when the UKNLAF was created. 

“We had a Dutch Marines company integrated with Whisky Company, 45 Commando in Scotland. It was impressive to see what they were able to achieve alongside the Royal Marines. 

“They trained and operated in the mountains, in Norway, in Arctic conditions and wherever the British went, they were true pioneers for us.

“We are now a modern, fully-integrated and capable amphibious force, able to face all the new challenges that the world has to offer.

“The current series of exercises has seen Dutch and British Marines working ever closer together, we look at each other, we talk the same language always and know exactly what each other can do; we can trust each other.”

“That bond goes even further back than the past 50 years, Dutch Commandos and Royal Marines fought side-by-side at Gibraltar in 1704, and during World War 2, when the Commandos were formed, there was a Dutch Troop No 2, as part of No 10 Commando.

“After WW2, Dutch Troop No 2 evolved into what is now Dutch Army Special Operations Forces (SOF).

“We have a long-distinguished and proud history together and we send people back to the Commando School at Lympstone on a very regular basis, you can’t beat the original.”

Lt Col Karl Johnston, Officer Commanding the Commando Training Wing at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, addressed those who had just completed the final test: 

He said: “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the UKNLAF, Europe’s oldest integrated military force. It is a real privilege to welcome you all to a special club – arguably the most exclusive and yet inclusive club in defence. 

“Exclusive because the only entry point is passing those standards that you have all achieved, nobody gets the Green Beret without completing the professional and physical standards that we demand. But Inclusive because clearly, we will welcome anyone with open arms if they can pass the Commando Tests.”

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