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New Review: Royal Netherlands East Indies Army 1936-42

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The long held Dutch colony of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) encompassed a huge swath of maritime territory across the southwest Pacific ocean, from the eastern end of the island of Sumatra to the western half of New Guinea, including the major islands of Java, Timor, most of southern Borneo, the octopus-like Celebes, and hundreds of smaller islands in between. For most of its history, the Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) was tasked with internal security, assisting the colonial police services in maintaining order when and wherever necessary. Defense from external threats was the primary responsibility of the Dutch Navy, supporting the far-flung KNIL battalions assigned to strategic areas throughout the colony. By 1936, in the face of growing Japanese expansion in the western Pacific, the KNIL began a five year modernization program that was just beginning to take shape by the time of the Japanese invasion in early 1942.

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