Major Airmobile Brigade: war Ukraine ‘wake-up call’ for the whole world

The 11 Airmobile Brigade from Assen looks back on a successful NATO exercise in Romania. The soldiers have now returned home from training close to the conflict zone in Ukraine. The soldiers saw nothing of the war itself, but the consequences of the Russian invasion are felt.

The Drenthe troops were stationed at the MK Air Base in eastern Romania and practiced on a site about forty kilometers from the Ukrainian border. They practiced there in NATO context with Romanian and American army units.

Army under the microscope

The war in Ukraine forces NATO countries to focus more on defense of the alliance. In recent years, the armies of various countries, including the Netherlands, have mainly been equipped for expeditionary missions, such as those in Afghanistan, Iraq or Mali. Now that the threat is approaching NATO’s borders, the Netherlands should take a closer look at the structure of its own army.

At least that is the opinion of Major Mark Bakker of the 11 Airmobile Brigade, who has just returned from training in Romania. “No one expected Russia to actually launch the attack, but it did. I think we are now in a period where we need to reassess whether we are still equipped with the right resources and the right amount of personnel to counterbalance our adversary.” to offer.”


The major thinks that the Russian invasion has shaken the world quite a bit. At the air base in Romania, he saw how seriously NATO takes the threat from Russia. The exercise was planned in Germany, but was moved to Eastern Europe due to the war in Ukraine. A signal to Putin that the alliance is alive and kicking militarily.

Bakker: “By stationing troops on the eastern flank, the Netherlands has shown its commitment to NATO. You can actually see that all countries with a large troop build-up want to counterbalance and prevent anyone from thinking about crossing the Romanian border.”

Over time, according to the major, it became increasingly crowded on the Romanian base. A tent camp with all kinds of facilities has been set up. Fighter planes patrolling Romania’s airspace departed from the base, and troops arrived from various countries to reinforce the border area.

Permanently present

There is a chance that more Dutch soldiers will also go to Romania in the near future. At the moment there is only an exercise of 150 soldiers, coming from the barracks in Schaarsbergen in Gelderland. France has now asked the Netherlands to start a joint mission with a more permanent presence.

Bakker: “The thought that we may have to go back in a while ran through my head during the flight. It is a serious option and it is now up to politicians to decide whether we will really do that.”