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Dutch Afghanistan Departure

  • August 2nd, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

afghan-patrol.jpgThe Dutch forces have marched out from Uruzgan province, in Afghanistan, from Sunday (1.8.10), leaving a vacuum to be filled by American and Slovak troops, and Australians already operating in the area.

The withdrawal was mandated last February by a split in the then coalition government of the Netherlands, with the Labour Party refusing to keep the commitment going; and new elections in June did not produce a change in the policy. (See EUAustralia Online; “Afghanistan: Dutch partners moving out”, 21.2.10; “Dutch elections”, 10.6.10.)

afghan-dutch.jpgThe 1600-strong Dutch force, made up of infantry, helicopters and F-16 aircraft, lost 24 soldiers killed during its four-year deployment.

It is the first withdrawal of NATO troops since the start of the current Afghanistan war, with the Polish and Canadian forces due to end their terms next year and the year after.

The insurrection by the Taliban militia has intensified, extending to terrorist bombings in towns, against efforts by the allies to build up the Afghan army and police, and protect their own military civil reconstruction projects.

One Afghan Member of Parliament from Uruzgan province quoted by the Aljazeera news service, Mohammed Hashim Watanwal, said the Dutch deployment had not been able to meet the hopes of people in the region, in terms of providing security and reconstruction.

See video, Aljazeera, Doha, “Dutch mission ends in Afghanistan”, 1.8.10., (2.8.10).

EUAustralia has requested a comment on the withdrawal from the Dutch government.

The Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, the NATO-led structure for the allied forces, General David Petraeus, declared current strategy would continue, at a meeting in Brussels last month (1.7.10).

“We will look into the expansion of security; the performance of the Afghan national security forces and their growth, not only in terms of numbers but also in capacity; and we will look into complementary activities in terms of governance and the delivery of basic services”, he said.

The Australian contingent in Afghanistan, 1100-strong, is concentrated mainly in Uruzgan province, until now operating within the area controlled by the Dutch.


NATO, Brussels, “NATO Cooperation with Australia”., (2.8.10).

NATO, Brussels, “Afghanistan strategy reaffirmed”, media release, 1.7.10.

VOA News, Washington, “Dutch withdraw from Afghanistan”, 1.8.10., (2.8.10).

Pictures Afghan-Australian patrol, Defence – Australia;