Published On: Tue, Sep 28th, 2021

Dutch Marines conduct military exercises at Raoul Illidge Sports Complex

GREAT BAY — The Dutch Marines stationed in Aruba conducted a military exercise at the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex on Tuesday morning. The exercise named “Windward Express” included marines stationed on St. Maarten with the assistance of the naval vessel M.V. Pelican.

This amphibious operation also saw marines from the ship being deployed to the shore on the frisk, which is a fast interception vessel that is able to rapidly deploy marines. In this exercise, the stage was set for the marines to extract a VIP which was at a location at the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex.

According to the Commander of the Marine Squadron Major Dennis van Huizen, during the exercise a helicopter which was to carry the VIP, did not show up and as a result marines had to move to another area on the beach near the Princess Juliana International Airport where the VIP will be extracted and taken to the Pelican.

This exercise is being done as part of the preparation of marines during the hurricane season, who may have to perform in events such as these happening. This exercise also gives the marines knowledge of the terrain and how to operate on the island in the event something happens on St. Maarten.

It should be noted that the marines have been conducting training exercises on all the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands every year which give the new marines an opportunity to have an idea of the landscape.

According to a press release issued by the Dutch Marines press office, Defense will practice various military skills on St. Maarten from September 13 to 30th. This includes maritime operations such as beach reconnaissance and amphibious actions. The exercise is part of a larger plan to prepare for eventual hurricane relief.

Soldiers must keep their skills up to date in order to remain widely deployable at all times. By choosing St. Maarten as a practice location, a possible hurricane passage in the region can be acted upon quickly and effectively. A large part of the personnel who support during a hurricane passage will already be in the area, as well as vehicles and means of communication that are then used.

During the training, the focus is on maritime and (amphibious) operations such as beach reconnaissance or the deployment of observation posts. The military also train Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO), in which people are evacuated during emergencies. As well as providing support during a hurricane passage. The training enables Defense units in the Caribbean to act anywhere in the world at different levels of the spectrum of violence when necessary.

In order to gain a better insight into the working methods of the various local authorities, simulation exercises are also being conducted with the disaster staff and other security partners for maintaining public order during crisis situations. Fast and robust action during Humanitarian Assistance (HA) operations is only possible if you practice well with the local authorities.

During the preparation and execution of this exercise, explicit account was taken of the (travel) restrictions that the COVID-19 pandemic entails. Only personnel with a valid vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test are allowed to participate in the exercise. Any additional measures that have been or will be imposed by the country of Sint Maarten will be responded to by the Ministry of Defense.

Marines from the marine detachment Sint Maarten, the Marine Squadron Carib from Aruba, but also the transport ship HNLMS Pelican and communication personnel from Curaçao are participating in the training, the press release concluded.