Saturday, February 26, 2005

Dutch Special Forces to Afghanistan

Dutch Marine's of 45 Commando disembark from a Chinook aircraft on Thursday, 27 June 2002, near Khost in southeastern AfghanistanThe Dutch government is going to send 165 Special Forces (mainly commando troops and some marines) to Afghanistan, together with four Chinook transport helicopters and 85 military. They are joining operation “Enduring Freedom” and going to support the Americans in their offensive against the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The troops will operate under American command and their prime task will be collecting intelligence and recon activities. It is the first time that the Netherlands is sending ground troops to do offensive operations in the war on terror.

The Dutch government had announced earlier, it is was investigating the possibility to send four F16 fighter planes to Kabul together with 100 man personnel and a battalion of Marines on stand by for the Afghan parliamentary elections that are most likely will be held this summer. These additional troops would be part of the Nato led ISAF force in which the Dutch already take part with their 'Provincial Reconstruction Team', now consisting of six Apache helicopters with 100 troops and 139 milary personell. The final decision to send these additional troops is made public together with the announcement to take part in operation ‘Enduring Freedom’.

These announcements of the Dutch government follow on the decision to redraw the Dutch ‘peace keeping’ troops from Iraq. Australia is now going to replace these troops that also protect Japanese reconstruction soldiers. Although extra instructors where send to Bagdad most Dutch troops will leave Iraq.

The operations in Iraq, although they where in one of the least violent area’s in Iraq, was not without problems. The Dutch government always made a point of it that they where a ‘peace keeping’ force that had a mandate much like the Dutch police. They gave the impression that they where working for the local Iraqi governor. When a Dutch marine, an officer, allegedly shot an Iraqi looter when his group came under threath. The Dutch military police directly arrested and detained the officer and deported him to The Netherlands. The investigation of the affair was done together with Iraqi officials and the Dutch prosecutor office even wanted to keep the soldier in custody, but had to realease him after the holiday season. In court, the judge ruled that the officer was innocent, but to the amazement of many, the Justice department went in appeal. The head Justice, Jonkheer mr. J. de Wijkerslooth (Socialist party member who is close to the Queen) has now suddenly resigned last week.

But there where more problems. The Dutch relied heavily on the local Iraqi governor, it seems that they saw them selves working for him (police has to work for the legitimate local power you see). But when Dutch soldiers where ambushed and one soldier died, the investigation to that, revealed involvement of the Iraqi governors office. Details where never released, but it seems that after that news the defense minister Kamp did not want to extend the Iraqi mission any longer. Minister Kamp is not known for his pacifist views, last year he tried to convince parliament to buy cruise missiles for the Dutch marine. Not really a defensive weapon that can be used for ‘peace keeping’ missions. Although not pacifistic, he did not do much to stop the outrageous arrest of the Dutch soldier, which undermined the Dutch military operations in Iraq. Overall he seems quite week in protecting his forces against the political opponents of the war.

So my guess is that the military wanted out of Iraq because they can’t trust the Dutch backstabbing Dutch politicians. They rather fight a real war, where the people of Dutch Justices minister Donner cannot hunt them down.

But this Dutch miss management of course gives a lot of problems for the other members in the war on terror. The Dutch have to make good for that. And that seems a good reason for these sudden steps of the Dutch government. It is noteworthy that the government says it does not need parliamentary approval for the offensive operations they now planned to join in Afganistan, they say approvale of parliament is only needed for ‘peace keeping operations’. And indeed the Iraqi mission was extensivly debated at the time. What about the reactions in parliament? They don’t make to much of a problem about that it seems...

Let’s hope the Dutch politicians don’t betray our troops again, like they did in Iraq. Let’s wish the best for the men and woman who risk their lives in this war.

Other bloggers:
Tiger Hawk - The Dutch go on the offensive

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