Netherlands, Kingdom of the

Capital: AmsterdamArea: 41.543 km2Population: 17.000.000Official Language: DutchArmed Forces Personnel: 58.800Medical Officers: 280Military Hospitals / Institutes: 2/7Missions: multiple

Surgeon General
Dr Remco Willem Blom
Commandeur (Rear Admiral)

Ministry of Defence
Defence Healthcare Organisation
P.O. BOX 90004
3509 AA Utrecht

Basic Task of the Medical Service

  • To provide operational medical care at Role 1 to 4, (aero)medical evacuation, and preventive medicine in the field.

  • To provide in individual healthcare including dental care and physiotherapy for NLD military personnel.

  • To provide occupational healthcare for NLD military personnel.

  • To provide rehabilitation care for NLD military personnel.

  • To educate and train military healthcare professionals.

  • To monitor and continuously improve the overall quality of military healthcare.

  • To advise the NLD military and political leaders in military healthcare matters.


Centrally positioned healthcare elements

The Defence Healthcare Organisation consists of ten centrally organised healthcare providers and staff. The organisation employs approximately 1350 men and women and provides healthcare services for all the branches of the forces in the Netherlands and abroad. The services include first-line healthcare, dental care, central hospital capability, rehabilitation, blood provision, clinical specialist teams for deployment, medical logistics, and initial education for medical personnel. The commander of the Defence Healthcare Organisation is also the Dutch Surgeon General.

The operational Role 1 and 2 assets are decentralised and under full command of ARMY, AIR FORCE, NAVY and MARECHAUSSEE (MILITARY POLICE).

The NLD Armed Forces Inspector of Military Healthcare (IMG)

The IMG has a small staff and is responsible for independent inspections of healthcare-related matters, assets and personnel. They report independently to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports.

Operational Medical Services

The Royal Netherlands Army has medical personnel incorporated within their 3 brigades (11 AirMobile Bde, 43 Armoured Bde and 13 Light Bde). Each brigade has a dedicated medical company with assigned Role 1 assets. There are a total of 3 brigades with 3 brigade medical companies. All Role 2 assets are centralised in a single service management unit residing under Army command, the 400 Medical Battalion (SSM 400 MedBn). Above brigade level, SSM 400 MedBn is incorporated within the Army’s operational support command brigade. SSM 400 MedBn consists of 5 interservice medical companies. This battalion has the possibility to deploy 4+4 Role 2 facilities for sustained operations or can combine this capability for a high threat-level operation not only for the Army but for Air Force or Navy as well (including Role 2 AFLOAT). All medical units can provide personnel to augment medical task forces, Medcell, PECC’s, etc. There is a separate medical staff at Army HQ, headed by the Army Staff Surgeon. The Army medical services have a total strength of approximately 1100 service members. 

The Royal Netherlands Air Force has aviation medical capabilities for AEROMEDEVAC and STRATEVAC tasks, holding capabilities for Air Force deployable units. There is casualty station capacity within their casualty staging units (CSU) and they have search and rescue (SAR) assets for domestic tasks (in cooperation with the Navy). There is a separate medical staff at Air Force HQ, headed by the Air Force Staff Surgeon. The Air Force medical services have a total strength of approximately 140 service members. 

The Royal Netherlands Navy has maritime medical capabilities for their vessels (Role 1 and ART). Role 2 capability can be stationed on the prepared facilities of the 3 Dutch Joint Support ships. The Role 2 facilities will be manned and equipped by SSM Role 2 of the SSM 400 MedBn and surgical capacity from the Defence Healthcare Organisation.  

Furthermore, the Dutch Marine Corps has Role 1 capabilities for amphibious operations available and can rely on landbased Role 2 support from SSM 400 MedBn. There is a separate medical staff at Navy HQ, headed by the Navy Staff Surgeon. The Navy medical services have a total strength of approximately 120 service members. 

The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (military police) has a separate medical staff, headed by the Marechaussee Staff Surgeon. They have some dedicated medical personnel to support military police operations but will be mainly supported by the commands they are deployed with.

Military Hospitals

Central Military Hospital

The Central Military Hospital is located in Utrecht and has approximately 30 regular beds. All regular inpatient and outpatient specialisations are available within the military hospital or obtainable from the collocated University Hospital Utrecht. The Central Military Hospital, in conjunction with the university hospital, also provides a (sheltered) major incident hospital with a capability of 200 beds. This major incident hospital also has quarantine facilities available. This hospital is a unique capability within the Netherlands and can be operational within 30 minutes. This hospital concept has proven its worth over many years for disaster relief and major incidents.


The Military Rehabilitation Centre

The Military Rehabilitation Centre is located in Doorn and has capacity for 80 inpatients and a number of outpatients. The centre also receives civilian patients and has state of the art training facilities at its disposal. It also has its own orthopaedic workshop.


Expert Centre of Expertise for Military Health 

Tasked with:

  • Knowledge management on health-related issues;

  • Providing advice on specific subjects as food and water hygiene, radiation, micro-biology,   pharmacy, disease control, public health, etc.;

  • Coordination of medical testing and research.

Knowledge Centre for Medical Service. 

Tasked with:

  • Medical skills lab training at group level;

  • Support for medical training in the field;

  • Support of requirement and procurement of medical equipment.  


Centre for Man and Aviation

Tasked with:

  • Aeromedical and psychological examinations;

  • Testing and training of airmen;

  • Research in the field of human factors.

Diving Medical Centre 

Tasked with:

  • Medical examinations of diving personnel;

  • Testing, education and training of diving personnel;

  • Treatment of decompression sickness;

  • Research in the field of diving medicine.

Sports and Training Medical Centre 

Tasked with:

  • Individual medical examinations;

  • Applied research in the field of physical exercise;

  • Providing advice regarding the physical stress of soldiers in the field.

Defence Medical Training Institute  

All military medical personnel attend the IDGO for initial military medical education and training. This institute is focussed on the military application of healthcare.

Institute for Defence and Partnership Hospitals

The Dutch Armed Forces have a unique concept to generate surgical capacity from the civilian market. By formally partnering with civilian hospitals, the Armed Forces pay for additional personnel at civilian hospitals. During periodical placements, they train civilian personnel with a military reserve status and utilise pre-planning and contracts in order to use these teams for missions and training purposes. 

A small staff residing directly under the Defence Healthcare Organisation ensures ‘just in time’ and ‘just enough’ surgical and medical specialists for exercises, missions and operations.

Number of Medical Service Personnel

The total strength of NLD medical service members is approximately 2800 men and women, consisting of approximately 950 civilian and 1860 military personnel.  

Qualified physiciansapprox. 220
Medical officers (non-physicians)approx. 200
Qualified dentists50
Qualified physiotherapists60
Nurses (non commissioned officers)approx. 600
Medical assistants and medical supporting personnel (soldiers/corporals)approx. 400

Field Deployments

Recent deployments include:

2003Central Afghanistan Kabul: Role 2 deployment;
2004-2005SFIR Iraq: Role 1 and Role 2 deployment; North Afghanistan Pol-E-Khomri: Role 2 deployment;
2006NRF 5 Pakistan: Role 2 for humanitarian assistance;
2006Exercise RECAMP Cameroon Africa: medical assistance programme;
2006-2010ISAF South Afghanistan Uruzgan: Role 1 and Role 2 deployment;
2006-2010ISAF South Afghanistan: Aeromedevac and holding capabilities;
2006-2011ISAF South Afghanistan Kandahar: Role 3 specialist team;
2007-2011KFOR: Role 3 specialist team;
2012Kunduz: Role 1 and contribution with a Role 2 medical team;
2012-2014Afghanistan Kunduz: Role 1 and contributions with a Role 2 medical team;
2013-2014BMDTF (Patriot) Turkey: Role 1 MTF;
2014- ongoingMINUSMA Mali: Role 1 MTF and Aero Medevac;
2015MH-17: deployment of Role 1 MTF, Role 2 MTF and identification teams;
2016- ongoing1 (NLD)CBMI: training support mission IRAQ mission, R1 MTF;
2016- ongoingEnhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Baltic States: integrated Role 1 assets;
2016- ongoingOcean Shield, European border patrol: integrated Role 1 assets;
OngoingNumerous ongoing missions with a small tailor-made medical footprint

In addition, medical services support various exercises throughout the world.

International Cooperation

The Dutch armed forces are very internationally orientated and have several cooperations with other nations, including international healthcare elements. The main effort is focussed on further cooperation and synchronisation with all NATO-countries and specifically with Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, United Kingdom, Canada, Norway and the United States of America.

Civil-Military Cooperation

The NLD Military Medical Service highly depend on support by the civilian healthcare organisations. Specialist teams are recruited and deployed by a specific military agency and specialist medical personnel support military medical education and training as reserve officers and reserve non commissioned officers. The interaction with the civilian sector will increase even more as we strive to ensure the required medical quality. This will be achieved by embedding military medical personnel in civilian healthcare organisations for periodical training.