ISAF mission in Uruzgan is becoming a war mission

19 April 2006

ISAF mission in Uruzgan is becoming a war mission

The security situation in the Afghan province of Uruzgan, where since August Dutch troops have been participating in NATO's operation ISAF, has deteriorated significantly. The number of attacks and ambushes carried out by the Taliban is greatly increasing. The Netherlands plans therefore to send additional soldiers to the region. SP Member of Parliament and Foreign Affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel believes that the mission should be looked at afresh. “This is not the mission approved by parliament in February,” he said. “That was supposed to be a reconstruction mission, but this is clearly a mission of war. The Netherlands must not act as a temporary US workforce, fighting a large-scale war in Afghanistan.”

The Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD) says also that the Taliban's organisation is ever improving. The fighters have available modern weapons systems and communications apparatus and know how to use them. Dutch troops are under threat of bomb attacks, ambushes and attacks on vulnerable helicopters, according to the MIVD.

In order to counter these developments an additional two hundred soldiers are to be sent to Uruzgan, bringing total military personnel attached to this mission to 1400, rising to around 2000. More F16 aircraft will also be engaged. The costs are approaching around €100 million, and the operation as a whole will in the end cost around € 400 million. And that doesn't include the €1m per month it costs to keep an F16 up and flying out there.

Harry van BommelSupport from the PvdA (Labour Party) was eventually decisive in delivering Dutch participation in the mission, especially as the small governing coalition partner D66 broke ranks to oppose it. Harry van Bommel noted the PvdA's argument that the military must be in a position to contribute to reconstruction. “Now it's become a mission of war the PvdA should logically drop its support. The question of continuation of the mission should for this reason be put back on the agenda.”

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