Fort Hood is a U.S. army base, located in Killeen, Texas. The post is named after Confederate General John Bell Hood. It is located halfway between Austin and Waco, about 60 miles (100 km) from each, within the U.S. state of Texas. Fort Hood is an installation of the United States Army and is the largest military base in the world (by area). Its origin was the need for wide-open space to test and train with World War II tank destroyers. Fort Hood is the most populous U.S. military installation in the world. The main business area is in Bell County, with the training countryside area of the post in Coryell County. In April 2014, the Fort Hood website lists 45,414 assigned soldiers and 8,900 civilian employees with Fort Hood covering 214,000 acres (87,000 ha). Currently, Fort Hood has nearly 65,000 soldiers and family members and serves as a home for the following units: Headquarters III Corps; First Army Division West; the 1st Cavalry Division; 13th Sustainment Command (formerly 13th Corps Support Command); 89th Military Police Brigade; 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade; 85th Civil Affairs Brigade; 1st Medical Brigade; and the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
Lt. Col. Peter Grijspaardt, is also based in Fort Hood as commander of the 302nd SQN, more precisely on the Robert Gray Army Airfield. The 302nd SQN consists of 230 employees, 27 of them are Dutch, stationed in Fort Hood for three years. The Dutch SQN is part of the 120st US brigade. The Dutch soldiers are stationed in Fort Hood for real-life training purposes. The Dutch have been present in Fort Hood for more than 20 years now. It all started with Apache training and exams in Fort Hood with the 301st SQN. The facilities were very well appreciated and convenient for training purposes, so the Dutch detachment made their military sales case towards the US government to continue and expand their presence in Fort Hood. Nowadays the 302st SQN organizes trainings four times per year for military aviators (apache, chinook, Amercian Falcon) from the Netherlands. Next to these trainings there is a mission training of 2 times 9 weeks for Dutch soldies as well to practice their own drills and shooting practices.
We asked Lt. Col. Peter Grijspaardt why they choose Fort Hood as their base. The main reason is the vastness and space of the training areas. The training areas are almost the size of the Netherlands in total. The Netherlands as a small, densely populated area with a lot of rules, regulations and restrictions is not a good place to do the training. Because of the space, there are endless opportunities for the aviation training, there are low and high fly zones and land to practice shooting. Fort Hood made deals with the ranchers to use their land for training. Also, the positivism of the Texans and the appreciation for the military are reason for the Dutch detachment to renew the contracts with the US government to be located in Fort Hood for five more years. The Dutch military are based on more locations in the U.S. than just Fort Hood. There is a Dutch military presence in El Paso, TX, Tucson, AZ, Fort Rucker in Alabama and in California. There are advantages of training with the U.S. forces. The U.S. military has developed a lot of expertise on airstrikes. Collaborating and exchanging tactics is very fruitful. The Dutch have conducted operations with U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past and now are conducting operations in Iraq and Syria together. Working with U.S. troops in garrison helps the Dutch familiarize with the different regional accents that American Soldiers have, which is important when they are conducting joint missions in theater. Training at Fort Hood fosters the relationship between Dutch and U.S. troops and builds trust that carries into missions down range and has already been proven to help with interoperability.
In February 2017, The Hon. Henne Schuwer, Netherlands Ambassador to the U.S., visited Fort Hood and met with Dutch troops and leaders, and observed training conducted by the Royal Netherlands Army and Air Force.