While The Netherlands removed their 1350 or so soldiers from Iraq in mid-2005, they remain one of the biggest contributors to the peace-keeping and nation-bulding forces in Afghanistan. They certainly came prepared—Apache attack helicopters, Chinook transport helicopters, F-16 fighter/attack jets, a tanker aircraft, tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles, artillery pieces—the lot, with a side-order of chips. Interestingly, there are still significant naval assets, both submarines and frigates from the Netherlands, active in the Gulf of Arabia and Gulf of Aden near Iraq, despite their withdrawal of land forces from that area. They are increasing their contingent in Afghanistan from 600, including some Special Forces, in the first half of year up to 2000 under the ISAF program. The extra troops and engineers should be arriving there shortly. In addition, they have sent $315 million for use in the reconstruction efforts.
While the “Dutch”* troops work with all members of the coalition, they seem to have an especially close relationship with Australians and Canadians. As Marcus Casspir, our friend from Holland, pointed out in the comments to a previous entry, Australian engineers are working with soldiers from the Netherlands as well as a Canadian force. In the upcoming deployment of those extra 1400 ISAF troops, they will be working with Australians again. Marcus also mentioned that they never leave Holland without their “Gods of War”, the 155mm PzH2000 self-propelled artillery piece, one of the most advanced 155mm guns developed, which features an autoloader mechanism. On a slightly less destructive note, there are a number of “Dutch” doctors and nurses helping out in hospitals and medical centers in Afghanistan.
The original contingent from the Netherlands was deployed to Afghanistan around Kabul in the east, and in Baghlan province to its north. The more recent and larger deployment was to the south of the country, with the emphasis on reconstruction in and around Uruzgan.
I notice politicians from the Netherlands seem to use the word “terrorism” a lot when talking about Afghanistan. I don’t think that’s accidental. After making a fool out of myself earlier by referring to Theo van Gough’s murder while discussing Denmark, this time I’m ready to get it right. He was killed in Amsterdam because of a film he made, and according to our friend Marcus that isn’t the most serious incident to happen of late. There were also the well-publicized threats against black politician Ayaan Hirshi Ali. Holland is famous for having a rather “lassaiz faire” attitude, but in this case they seem to be taking the situation rather seriously. After all, if there’s anything these radicals hate it’s sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, all of which are available in Amsterdam for those who wish to partake.
Holland lost two soldiers during their deployment in Iraq and ? so far in Afghanistan.
* I’m told that calling someone from Holland “Dutch” is like calling an American “Yank” so I’ll do it sparingly.
Below the fold: France and Germany.
To be continued?
—posted by Nicholas.