SP seeking clarification on preparation for Uruzgan mission

12 April 2006

SP seeking clarification on preparation for Uruzgan mission

SP Member of Parliament Krista van Velzen has asked Defence Minister Henk Kamp for his reaction to statements from a Dutch soldier to the effect that the troops posted to the Afghan region of Uruzgan are extremely inexperienced and poorly prepared. “If this whistle-blower turns out to be right,” Ms Van Velzen said, “these soldiers are running an unnaceptable risk in Afghanistan.”

Statements from the soldier, who has refused to allow himself to be posted to Afghanistan, appeared in the weekly Vrij Nederland (“Free Netherlands” - one of the country's leading weekly news magazines). He described his platoon, which would be going on the mission, as a “kindergarten” and a “groepje hangjongeren” - a difficult term to translate but one which implies the sort of vaguely menacing adolescents who hang around street cormers and shopping malls: think “bunch of hoodies” One of his superiors said of his statement that “Oh, sure, I could also think of people I'd rather go to Afghanistan with.” Mr Kamp said recently that the best trained troops would be sent. Ms Van Velzen wants to know how many of these soldiers will be on their first posting, how old they are and how well prepared they are likely to be for a mission replete with risk. .

Krista van Velzen during a visit to troops in AfghanistanKrista van Velzen during a visit to troops in Afghanistan

“Poor preparation can lead to disastrous conseuences, not only during the mission but afterwards, in the form of psychatric problems. If the government finds it necessary to send people out there, it should at least make every effort to avoid a sitation in which the troops who are sent will have to pay a heavy price.”

On the basis of a motion instigated by Van Velzen, the Defence Ministry has commissioned a scientific enquiry into the link between the age and level of intelligence of combat personnel and their vulnerability to psychological problems.

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