Despite Scandinavia commonly being associated with a harsh climate among central Europeans, the Dutch defense ministry failed to take the necessary precautions and procure warm clothes for its contingent's participation in the Trident Juncture 18 exercise, the biggest NATO drills in years, the newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
Instead of being provided warm clothes, the Dutch soldiers will have to go shopping themselves before heading north in a month.
Dutch Defense Minister Barbara Vesser attributed this wardrobe malfunction to a dramatic lack of time. Earlier, the Dutch soldiers had participated in drills in Lithuania, where no extra warm clothes were needed. The Dutch defense failed to take into account the upcoming drills in Norway, which left the Dutch military supplier with not enough time to provide the necessary clothes.
However, while the Dutch soldiers will have to do the shopping themselves, they won't have to pay from their own pocket, Vesser pledged. Each soldier will receive €1,000 to cover his or her expenses.
"The soldiers must have the clothes they need. And I do not want to experience this again," the Defense Minister said, as quoted by the newspaper Volkskrant. At the same time, she emphasized that there is no lack of uniforms. "This question is about underwear and not combat clothing," she stressed.
The Dutch Defense regularly sends marines and elite forces to winter training in Norway. Dutch soldiers also participated in joint drills held in Norway. For instance, the Netherlands had 600 soldiers for winter training at the Åsegarden camp in Harstad between January and March 2018. Additionally, 200-300 soldiers from the Dutch Navy underwent shooting practice in Norway in February and March.
The NATO exercise Trident Juncture 18 will be held in central Norway in late October and early November, when the quicksilver falls well below zero in parts of Scandinavia. The exercise will bring together about 40,000 participants from all NATO member states, as well as Finland and Sweden, and is touted as the largest in years.