Van Bommel demands openness on use of F16s in Afghanistan

6 April 2012

Van Bommel demands openness on use of F16s in Afghanistan

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel is demanding that the government come clean on the uses to which Dutch F16 military aircraft are being put in the skies above Afghanistan. In principle the F16s are there to detect roadside bombs and protect military personnel who meet urgent difficulties on the ground. Yet according to Van Bommel the planes take to the air not only to go the aid of Dutch soldiers but also of personnel for other countries. In his view, the government should be open about this and not hide behind implausible agreements whose purpose is to prolong the mission.

Harry van BommelDuring his recent visit to Afghanistan Van Bommel spoke with soldiers in Mazar-e-Sharif, Kabul and Kunduz, including on the subject of the deployment of F16s. What Parliament agreed to was that the F16s would not conduct any pre-planned offensive operations, but would only offer air support to soldiers who found themselves in difficult situations demanding urgent action. This applied, however, only to Dutch military personnel.

In Afghanistan Van Bommel observed that in practice this could be ‘immoral’, as he explains. ‘Our planes can only go to the aid of soldiers who have a Dutch passport. That’s inexplicable. Political wrangling over this mission has set the military an impossible task. The mission’s supporters are losing their credibility and failing any longer to give Afghanistan any help.’

The SP has always been and remains opposed to the Dutch presence in Afghanistan because it does not believe that stability can be achieved in this way. At the same time the party blames the government, as well as a number of opposition parties, for saddling Dutch military personnel with impossible tasks.

Referring to the smaller of the Netherlands’ two parliamentary centre-left parties, Van Bommel said that “in fact the government made all sorts of promises to get the support of the Green Left for the mission in Kunduz. These promises aren’t realistic and the government should come clean on this. I’m curious to know whether the Green Left still supports this mission.’

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