Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers
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Dutch reservist deploys to South Afghanistan, supports Task Force Uruzgan

After 27 years in the Reserves, MAJ Marc Daverveldt, finally had the opportunity to exercise all his military skills in a real-world deployment.

The Reservist from the Netherlands served as the aide-de-camp for Brigade General Tom Middendorp, commander of Task Force Uruzgan (TFU), in Afghanistan for seven months. The experience validated Daverveldt’s long-standing hypothesis that Reservists could be critical assets in assymetrical conflicts.

“The non-kinetic phases of counter insurgency conflicts demand out of the box thinking,” said Daverveldt. “This was evidenced throughout Afghanistan. One could see if you blend in Reservists with regular troops, you’ll get more ideas from this out of the box thinking.”

As a Reservist, Daverveldt normally works as a shift officer at Region Command West Netherlands. His job emphasis is on crisis relief operations. In his deployed role, Daverveldt honed new skills working with the 3,500 member task force and TFU commander.

“I juggled a lot of responsibilities,” said Daverveld, who worked 16-18 hour days during the first phase of his deployment. “I was responsible for managing the agenda for the boss (TFU commander) and directing VIP visits and a number of other activities.”

VIPs included distinguished guests like the crown prince of the Netherlands, ministers of defense and four-star generals. The visits required extensive coordination on multiple levels; Daverveldt helped with anything from billeting arrangements to transportation.

The Reservist also managed outgoing VIP visits. When his General Middendorp wanted to visit his troops at other bases in the region, he almost always flew in a helicopter because freedom of movement on the ground was limited due to the dangerous level of improvised explosive devices (IED) scattered within 50 kilometers of the camp. Daverveldt accompanied the general on these flights every couple days.

Having seen extensive damage done to vehicles blown-up by IEDs, Daverveldt always remained cautious when traveling outside the base. He recalled one frightening incident in the outskirts of Tarin-Kowt when he was manning a gun in an Australian bushmaster. These “battlefield taxis” are armored trucks with a gun in front and back. Daverveldt is trained as an infantryman, and was asked to man the back. When a motorcycle came speeding toward the bushmaster, Daverveldt placed his machine gun on fire and was seconds away from shooting the motorcyclist. But the cyclist abruptly stopped and turned around in a different direction.

“Suicide bombers and IEDs are a terrible threat,” he said. “You have to be ready for anything,”

Daverveldt loved his work, and actually extended his tour. He volunteered because he had never deployed before, and it was the third time he had an opportunity to serve.

“I wanted the experience,” he said. “I felt like I was missing something, and in the Reserve there seems to be a gap between those who have deployed and those who haven’t.”

Daverveldt thinks Reservists like him offer a lot of skills in the battlefield, but insists that ministry of defense has to invest in Reservists if they want the best outcome. He also noticed a lot of areas were Reservists could augment the active force, including roles in security at the bases.

“Currently the Netherlands has Reserve officers working in special duties as medical staff, civil engineers and teachers,” he said. “I think Dutch Reservists can be used for almost any job except for deliberate fighting operations because they tend to be older and haven’t trained as a team with the other fighters.”

As for Daverveldt, he thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of his deployment Afghanistan, and would do it again if asked.

© 2012 Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers