Soldiers from the Netherlands’ 11 Luchtmobiele Brigade (11th Airmobile Brigade) will join the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to staff a new Long Range Reconnaissance Task Group (LRRTG).
Dutch Ministry of Defence spokesman Colonel Jos van der Leij told IHS Jane’s that a detachment from the 11 Luchtmobiele Brigade will arrive in Mali by 1 January 2017, where they will be based at Camp Castor, in Gao, which is also home to the German Intelligence, Surveillance and Intelligence (ISR) Task Force.
He added that the new LRRTG will replace the existing Special Operations Land Task Group (SOLTG), which was first stood up in 2014 and has since been staffed by Dutch Korps Commando Troepen (KCT) and Maritime Special Operation Forces (MARSOF) operatives as well as, since early 2016, Danish and Czech special forces.
The SOLTG is a long-range reconnaissance unit under the direct authority of the MINUSMA Force Commander and tasked with intelligence gathering. It has no mandate to carry out offensive counter-terrorism operations.
Col van der Leij explained that, unlike the SOLTG, the LRRTG will be staffed only by Dutch personnel and that its mission will remain essentially the same as that of the SOLTG and will also answer directly to the Force Commander.
While talks as to the future of the Netherlands’ contribution to MINUSMA are expected to take place in The Hague over the coming weeks, it is already acknowledged that Dutch forces will remain in Mali at least until the end of 2017.