Falcon Autumn

Marnewaard, the Netherlands 

3 October 2011



During the period of 26 September to 7 October, the Dutch Army's 11 Air Manouevre Brigade staged its largest exercise in many years, aided in no small part by the helicopters of the DHC (Dutch Helicopter Command). As the Dutch Army is no longer active in Afghanistan, the opportunity presented by the Brigade's both Battalions being home simultaneously was taken. A large swath of the Netherlands, stretching from Arnhem to Groningen, was to be the stage for several actions within the Falcon Autumn framework. This included a river crossing, the taking of the TT Motor Racing track near Assen which simulated a large airport for the occasion, the simulated intervention in a hostage crisis for which a large convention center near the village of Zuidlaren was the center point. All these places of course were non-military of nature. An exception was the Army's exercise village at Marnewaard.

Situated in the extreme north of the Netherlands, close to the fishing port of Lauwersoog which is also the place from which ferries set sail for the Isle of Schiermonnikoog, Marnewaard was purposely built for the Army about a decade ago. It consists of structures closely resembling the typical Dutch semi-detached or detached homes, but only when one approaches the buildings does their true nature become apparant. So good do the houses look from a distance that tourists have been known to inquire whether they would be for rent!

At Marnewaard, the helicopter activity was at its peak on 3 October. On this day, 11 Air Manoeuvre Brigade was to undertake urban warfare training in the village. Troops were flown in and out of Marnewaard on both Boeing CH-47D Chinooks from 298 sq and Eurocopter AS.532U2 Cougar Mk.II's from 300 sq. Boeing AH-64D Apaches from 301 sq provided the necessary fire support en orbited the Landing Zone (LZ) during insertion and extraction. The participation of the Cougars was especially noteworthy, as this type had been slated for immediate retirement in June 2011. However, this soon proved to be a bit premature and eight out of 17 delivered will continue in service until sufficient NH.90 helicopters will be available. 

The images below show the extraction phase of the 11 AMB troops.









All pictures (c) Hans Rolink