First Dutch marines arrive in St. Maarten early 2013


THE HAGUE--The first six Dutch marines will arrive in St. Maarten early 2013 for the practical preparations to set up a marine base on the island.

The Dutch Ministry of Defence on Friday confirmed earlier media reports that it will be permanently stationing a contingent of 26 marines of The Netherlands in St. Maarten next year.

Following the stationing of the initial six marines early next year, the first rotating detachment of twenty marines will arrive from The Netherlands before June. By late 2013 the unit of 26 marines will be fully operational.
"With the permanent stationing of 26 marines in St. Maarten, The Netherlands does justice to the new constitutional structure and Defence guarantees the safety also in this part of the Kingdom," stated Dutch caretaker Minister of Defence Hans Hillen in a press release.

According to Hillen, all autonomous countries in the Kingdom have the right to permanent military representation, including St. Maarten. The minister pointed out that the Charter prescribes that all countries in the Kingdom have equal rights.

The presence of the marines in St. Maarten has several advantages, stated Hillen. The marines will be able to provide quick emergency assistance during the passing of a hurricane, because they no longer have to come from Aruba or Curaçao. The response time to St. Eustatius and Saba will be reduced.

The marines can also be deployed to help guard the borders of land and sea, like maritime border protection tasks to assist the Coast Guard of the Kingdom in the Caribbean. The unit will further assist St. Maarten Voluntary Corps (VKS) as well as the Social Formation Programme for youngsters. The latter will take place in consultation with the St. Maarten government.

The unit will be locally responsible for the regular Defence tasks. These tasks include the "upholding of the independence and defence of the Kingdom, the promotion of international legal order and military assistance to local authorities of the Windward Islands, such as hurricane emergency assistance."