Netherlands

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Kingdom of the Netherlands

The Armed Forces of the Netherlands have a tradition of military camouflage use that dates back to the Second World War. British camouflaged Denison airborne smocks were worn by Dutch personnel of No 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando and Dutch paratroopers during the war, and many surplus smocks (as well as surplus British M1942 windproof uniforms) were also employed by Dutch Army Commando personnel into the early 1950s. Following WW2, the Dutch Armed Forces received considerable assistance from the United States, including surplus stocks of WW2 issue reversible jungle camouflage uniforms (worn by Dutch Infantry serving in Indonesia), and even a rare American 1942 experimental spot pattern. Although the latter was never worn by US military personnel in combat, it did see limited service with the Dutch Korps Speciale Troepen (Special Troops Corps) during the war in the Dutch East Indies.

Around 1951 the Dutch developed their own spotted pattern camouflage that remained in service until the mid-1960s. Interestingly, there is no evidence suggesting this camouflage pattern was worn by Dutch troops serving in Indonesia. The period running from 1950 through the 1980s saw the majority of Dutch military personnel serving in olive drab combat clothing, as did most of their NATO allies.

A period of trials, experiments and utilization of camouflage by Dutch elite units began in the 1980s. Circa 1980, some units of the Dutch Army were issued a two-piece rainsuit produced by the Belgian firm Seyntex and printed in a jigsaw-type camouflage design. A new style of uniform, designated PSU-80, was also tested by the Dutch Army during the 1980s, leading to an evaluation of the German flecktarnmuster pattern by the 13th Armored Infantry Brigade between 1985 and 1987. The flecktarn pattern was never adopted, however, possibly due to its association with Second World War era German patterns. It was only in 1991 that the Dutch Army finally adopted camouflage for general issue, and the pattern chosen was simply a locally-produced copy of the British DPM pattern. This continues to be worn by the Dutch Army even in today's world of pixelated and digitally-designed camouflage. Subsequent to the adoption of DPM, a locally-produced version of the US tricolor desert pattern was also issued, and in 1992 also a unique Dutch jungle camouflage pattern for employment in tropical environments.

The Dutch Royal Marines (Korps Mariniers) also experimented, very briefly, with a camouflage pattern of their own in the early 1980s. Influenced by the Belgian jigsaw design, it was never fully-implemented and soon disappeared. Yet a long cooperation with their British counterparts in the Royal Marines led to frequent uses of British made DPM uniforms during this decade, and even production of a Korps Mariniers DPM pattern in the latter part of that era. Yet circa 1993, the Marines completely dropped European camouflage designs entirely and instead have opted to wear uniforms made from US produced m81 woodland and tricolor desert camouflage fabric. These continue to be worn today.

Dutch Army Camouflage Patterns

  • The Dutch Army spot camouflage pattern was introduced around 1951, and is obviously heavily influenced by the US WW2 era jungle pattern. This uniform was primarily intended for issue to the Army Commandos (Korps Commandotroepen) (KCT), the pattern for which generally consisted of dark green, olive green, reddish-brown & pinkish brown spots on a pale green or tan background. The uniforms were produced by three different Dutch firms, Lievenboom-Borne, De Beyenkorf-Terborg and SKIL, each of which vary slightly in the quality of fabric and dye lots employed in the printing process. Some collectors refer to this pattern as "jellybean spot."

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  • Another early (and very rare) camouflage design produced by the Dutch government is seen below. This was purely an experimental or trial pattern that was briefly tested by the Korps Commandotroepen. It appears to be an enlarged version of the early design and can be dated to the mid-1950s. Although never adopted, surviving uniform samples were likely used for training by the KCT in the following years.

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  • A two-piece rain suit producec by the Belgian firm Seyntex was produced for the Army in the early 1980s. The pattern is a variation of the Belgian jigsaw design.

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  • Between 1985 and 1987 a version of the German Bundeswehr flecktarn pattern camouflage was tested by the Dutch Armed Forces (first by 350 men of the 13th Armored Infantry Brigade, and later apparently by the Royal Dutch Marines). The test uniform, labeled PSU-80 was a fairly complete ensemble, but was only produced in small numbers and never adopted. This may have been for political reasons (such as the design's resemblance to WW2 German SS camouflage designs, or for other reasons entirely.

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  • The Dutch Army (Koninklijke Landmacht) introduced its own version of British DPM in 1991 after a series of trials begun with the PSU-80 uniform. Consisting of black, chocolate brown & olive green disruptive shapes on a yellowish-tan background, the pattern can usually be distinguished from most British versions by the slightly muted appearance of some colors, although the overall appearance does vary depending on what type of material the pattern is printed on. Produced in a wide variety of uniform and head dress types as well as many pieces of field equipment, DPM (which the Dutch refer to as "woodland") is still the general issue service pattern of the Dutch Army in 2016.

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  • Introduced for general service in 1992, the Army (KL) desert camouflage pattern is a slight reinterpretation of the US tricolor desert pattern using different drawings with essentially the same color scheme. This remains the standard desert pattern of the Dutch Army, and is employed on a variety of different uniform types as well as field equipment.

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  • The jungle camouflage pattern was also introduced around 1992, intended for service with Dutch Army personnel deployed to very hot, tropical environments. The design consists of dark brown, olive green & lime green shapes on a dark tan background, but is not employed on any type of field equipment.

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  • In 2011, the Dutch Army released prototypes of a new fractal camouflage pattern. Referred to by several sources as Netherlands Fractal Pattern (NFP), three versions have thus far been released: a temperate/woodland version (NFP Green), an arid/desert version (NFP tan), and a so-called "transitional" design for implementation on field equipment. The latter would theoretically perform well in all environments and would necessitate soldiers only being issued a single set of field equipment. The most current information suggests none of the patterns will be fully implemented before 2017, but introduction and trial issue may start as early as 2014-15.

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  • Circa 2016, a new, six-color camouflage design for special operations personnel was first fielded in Mali by members of the Army Commandos (Korps Commandotroepen) (KCT) and other personnel attached to the Special Operations Task Group (SOTF). The uniforms in this pattern are being produced by Fibrotex (based in Israel).

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Royal Dutch Marine Corps Camouflage Patterns

  • The earliest pattern developed specifically for use by the Korps Mariniers (KM) was based on the Belgian jigsaw design. Consisting of black squiggles over large brown & grass green puzzle shapes on a khaki background, the uniforms were in fact made by the Belgian firm Seyntex for the Netherlands Marine Corps. This pattern dates to the early 1980s, but only existed for a few years and was never fully implemented as a standard issue uniform.

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  • Following a period of utilizing British made DPM pattern camouflage uniforms, the Dutch government again contracted with the Belgian firm Seyntex to produce a uniform specifically for use by the Royal Dutch Marines. The pattern chosen was a slight variation of the British DPM but in a completely different cut of uniform. This uniform was issued from 1986 into the early 1990s. The pattern may be nicknamed "purple DPM" due to the tendency of the dark brown dyes to fade after washing to a shade of purple.

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  • Beginning in 1993, the Korps Mariniers discarded DPM camouflage completely, opting instead to begin issuing uniforms made from US issue m81 woodland and tricolor desert pattern fabrics. These uniforms are made in USA to Dutch specifications, and the fabric and camouflage pattern are the same as those issued to the US military.

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Other Camouflage Patterns worn by the Netherlands

  • During the Second World War, both the Dutch Troop No 10 Commando and Dutch elements of Allied Airborne Forces wore British-manufactured 1942 pattern Denison Airborne Smocks. Leftover stocks continued to be worn by Army Commando personnel during the postwar period, although by the 1950s they were all but worn out and no longer in circulation.

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  • Available in much larger quantities following the Second World War, the British 1942 pattern "windproof" brushstroke pattern uniforms were also worn by the Regiment Speciale Troepen (1945–1950) and later by the Korps Commandotroepen (Army Commandos) during the 1950s.

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  • Dutch units serving in the Pacific, in particular the Korps Insulinde (which fought the Japanese in Sumatra), were able to obtain some quantities of American M1942 pattern camouflage reversible uniforms. After the wear ended, the USA donated significant quantities of these uniforms to the Netherlands, which continued to be utilized by special units like the Regiment Speciale Troepen. Additionally, surplus bolts of raw double-sided fabric were also donated, out of which the Dutch government created their own copy of the coverall-style uniform. These uniforms were worn primarily by Dutch Infantry operating in Indonesia from 1946 until around 1949. [1]

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  • Heavily involved in combat operations during the Indonesian National Revolution (1945-1950), the Korps Speciale Troepen of the Dutch Army also acquired a small quantity of experimental camouflage uniforms from the United States in a unique camouflage pattern that was never officially adopted by American personnel.

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  • During the early 1980s, when most of the Dutch Armed Forces were still wearing standard olive green/khaki drab uniforms, the Royal Dutch Marine Corps did make use of British DPM pattern uniforms, particularly when operating alongside their British Royal Marine counterparts.

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  • It has been confirmed from official sources that the Korps Commando Troepen (KCT) or Army Commandos have deployed to Afghanistan wearing government-procured uniforms in Multicam pattern camouflage. These uniforms have also been worn by members of the 11 Luchtmobiele Brigade (11th Airmobile Brigade) serving in Mali circa 2014, and by the Maritime Special Forces (MARSOF) of the Royal Dutch Marines.

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  • In recent years, members of the Army Special Forces Regiment have been documented wearing the commercial A-TACS® desert pattern in training conditions. It is uncertain as yet whether members of the Regiment will also deploy operationally with this pattern as well.

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Notes

  1. Ken Conboy, Elite: the Special Forces of Indonesia 1950-2008 (Equinox Pub, Jakarta, 2008), p 6

Acknowledgements

I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mr. Jan Van der Steen for his generous assistance in providing background material to create this page.