Dutch soldiers ‘not trained’ on Patriots

Dutch soldiers ‘not trained’ on Patriots

Dutch soldiers ‘not trained’ on Patriots

German officials make preparations to set up Patriots in Kahramanmaraş. AA photo

Some of the Dutch troops due to man Patriot missile batteries on Turkey’s border are inadequately trained in the weapon systems, largely due to spending cuts, a trade union official said on Dec. 18. However, the Dutch Defence Ministry denied the assertion.

“About 20 percent of those going have no experience with these systems,” said Wim van den Burg, chairman of AFPM, the largest military trade union, referring to the Dutch. “There are concerns that they will not be ready when the situation heats up and they need to use these rockets.”

Dutch Defense Ministry denies claims

The Dutch merged the air force and the army last year and Defence Ministry spokesman Jos van der Leij said the army soldiers had received sufficient training for the purpose. “We would not send out our people on a mission without proper training,” he said. “The army personnel have been trained in using air defence systems. The people sitting at the controls of these systems have been trained to do that.”

But Van den Burg, whose union represents roughly 25,000 Dutch personnel, said none of the army troops on the mission had actually fired a Patriot missile, unlike their air force counterparts. That has led to worries that they will not stand up to the pressure of working in a conflict zone, he said.

“The consequences could be grave if they are unable to use the systems when the time comes and they are really needed. That would be morally unjustifiable,” he said. Van den Burg blamed deep government spending cuts for the alleged training deficiencies and for what he said was pressure on troops to go on longer field deployments.

Meanwhile, a group of German team made inspections for the Patriot systems in İskenderun district of Hatay province.

Turkey to open Space Command

Turkey will open a “Space Forces Command” as part of the Turkish Air Force, daily Cumhuriyet reported yesterday. Turkish satellites expected to be launched in 2013 and 2014 will also be under the authority of this new command, which will be headed by a Major general, according to the daily. The move came after Turkey’s first Earth observation satellite, Göktürk-2, was launched Dec. 18 in China.