I stumbled upon this article, dated April 14 2016, titled "Germany Is Taking Over the Dutch Army".

The article says that

Huge portions of the Dutch military are being merged with the German Army, a process that many want to see rolled out across the whole Continent. Two of the Netherland’s three combat brigades have officially begun the process of joining the Bundeswehr.


This is a revolutionary change, not just for the Netherlands, but for Europe and, in time, the world. It is paving the way for a newly capable German-led military force.

The two nations are also extending this partnership to the sea. Germany and the Netherlands will share the Dutch Navy’s largest and most expensive ship, the Karel Doorman.

The same site has other articles about this same subject.

For example this article titled "Germany Is Building a European Army Before Your Eyes" (dated August 11th, 2014) says that

The Dutch Army is made up of three brigades, plus support staff and Special Forces. On June 12, one of those brigades, the 11th Airmobile, officially joined the German Army.

This was the first time ever that European country has handed part of its army over to another country. “Never before has a state renounced this elementary and integral part of its sovereignty,” wrote Die Welt’s political editor, Thorsten Jungholt.

Now, Germany is making it clear that this was not an isolated event. Instead, it is a pattern Germany intends to follow as it absorbs more units from foreign militaries. “Germany is driving the European Army Project” was the title of Jungholt’s Die Welt article.

And this article (undated), titled "Under Construction" says (emphasis added):

And beginning in 2014, the Dutch military’s advance guard will be commanded by Germans. The Dutch will no longer begin a war without German permission.

From this last article I noticed however that this is some kind of a religious publication, as the article says things like

The prophecies of the book of Revelation are being fulfilled before our eyes. Or, to put it another way, history is repeating itself. Germany is returning to its role as the premier military power in Europe.

Considering that these articles are now some years old but there has not been much news about Germany "building a European Army", I am thinking that this is either fake news or that the subject matter is being exaggerated.


  1. Have large portions of the Dutch armed forces been placed under German control?
  2. If yes, is it correct that "The Dutch will no longer begin a war without German permission"?
  • 3
    The Dutch haven't begun a war since... Oh, way back during the era of Colonialism's heyday. There was the brutal repression of the Indonesian uprisings, but that wasn't a war as it's defined by international standards. Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 8:36
  • 4
    Also, I'm Dutch I occasionally look over the headlines of some of the more reactionary right-wing newspapers, because it's useful to know what's on their minds. You'd think the various nationalists would be howling about something like this, but I've heard exactly zip-all. Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 8:38
  • @Shadur It seems that the story is at least based on some truth (see here or here (both German)). It seems to go both ways though (so some German forces are placed under Dutch control as well). I'm not posting an answer as I'm not familiar enough with the Dutch military to say if this affects "large portions" though.
    – tim
    Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 10:00
  • 9
    My German's rusty, but the Spiegel article is talking about increased cooperation and training. Which are things you want to do if you expect troops to be fighting on the same side. It's a thing allied forces do from time to time. Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 10:21
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    @jwenting if they actually go to war as part of a NATO mission they may all be reporting to a commander from a different country. For example, if they were deployed to defend the Baltic states under operation Eagle Guardian, they would likely be under command of JFCBS in the Netherlands which is (currently) headed by an Italian army commander.
    – JJJ
    Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 7:35

2 Answers 2


The cited articles are quite a bit misleading in how they present and interpret the details, but it they are essentially true regarding the facts they are based on.

The German army has several joint ventures going.

With France the Franco-German Brigade was formed in 1987.

With mainly Poland and Denmark the Multinational Corps Northeast established in 1999.

With the Netherlands the I. German/Dutch Corps operational since 1995.

Answering subquestion 1:
The really new part, almost scandalised in the claim, is that indeed two whole brigades formally still part of the Army of the Netherlands are now placed under sole German control concerning organsiation and command structure. The 11th Airmobile Brigade (Netherlands) (own website) and the 43rd Mechanized Brigade (Netherlands) (own website, and German website) are organisationally part of the German Army since 2014 and 2016 respectively.

Whether this represents a large part as in the claim is answered by Wikipedia as follows:

2 of 3 Dutch Army Brigades are now under German Command. In 2014 the 11th Airmobile Brigade, was integrated into the Rapid Forces Division (Division Schnelle Kräfte), while the 43rd Mechanized Brigade began integration into the 1st Panzer Division (1. Panzerdivision) in 2016, with the intention that it is fully part of the German formation by the end of 2019. The Dutch-German military cooperation are seen as an example for setting up a European defense union.

Answering subquestion 2:
From the examples listed it should be clear that it is not really Germany alone that is building this European Army, although it may well be the biggest player in this game. The whole process of European integration was meant to prevent going to war with each other ever again. Since both countries are also members of NATO the concept of one member state unilaterally, that is without consulting or – better explicit approval – the others, beginning a war is frowned upon within this organisation anyway. Exceptions like the US, the UK and Turkey have to be noted though.
Given the current and developing army command structure it will be difficult for the Netherlands to join this list of exceptions.
Formally declaring any war is so twentieth century now. In recent years NATO or its members just invade territory or drop ordnance for security.
That the "Dutch will no longer begin a war without German permission" is also highly speculative to answer, as it concerns events in the future. But such behaviour would be against the signed treaties on and around this issue in any case. The stated goal of European military integration is that all EU members are on the same page regarding military issues, including "war":

Military of the European Union: The military of the European Union comprises the various cooperative structures that have been established between the armed forces of the member states, both intergovernmentally and within the institutional framework of the union; the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) branch of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).
Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union provides for substantial military integration within the institutional framework of the union:

Article 42.2 provides for complete integration, which would require unanimity in the European Council of heads of state or government and has as such been blocked by the United Kingdom, which is the main opponent of EU defence integration, in particular. (The United Kingdom is however scheduled to withdraw from the union in 2019.)
Article 42.6 enables the armed forces of a subset of member states to establish Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) between themselves. In December 2017. 25 Member states of the European Union agreed to establish PESCO.

Whether this is or will be an army "led by Germany" seems to be a political judgement call left to reader.

  • 5
    "With France the Franco-German Brigade was formed in 1987". I misread that first as being about Spain and General Franco in the 1930's.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 16:13
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    This answer is itself somewhat misleading in that it implicitly supports the interpretation presented in the article from the question, namely that the Bundeswehr is somehow devouring the Dutch military in order to pave "the way for a newly capable German-led military force". However, what appears to be really happening goes both ways. For instance, it's planned that the German Seebataillon will be placed under Dutch command this year.
    – Schmuddi
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 7:17
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    This answer does not address the question "Is Netherlands no longer able to start war without permission from Germany?" Your point about NATO is mostly wrong. Plenty of NATO members conduct military operations without the permission of NATO. Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 15:23
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    From the information you have presented, that first sentence ("The cited article is a bit misleading in how it presents the details, but it it is essentially true.") should be rewritten do provide a stronger refutation of the articles linked by OP. Those articles are more than just a bit misleading.
    – x457812
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 17:31

The Wikipedia page on the German army structure says that two Dutch brigades are part of German divisions for training and instruction purposes. Nothing is said about who receives training and instruction.

  • 2
    This is an aaswer severely lacking in context, and which omits several key facts. Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 15:20
  • Like which? Would you present a few of the lacking key facts then?
    – jjack
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 15:24
  • it's full operational control. While the Dutch government can still deny their deployment as part of a German operation, they are technically part of the German army as well as the Dutch army. IOW political control is Dutch, operational control is German, not just for training but in the field as well were they ever to be deployed in times of war.
    – jwenting
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 11:56

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