Dutch troops leave AfghanistanFrom correspondents in Kabul
DUTCH troops are leaving Afghanistan after four years, handing over control of military operations in central Oruzgan province after a political row at home forced their drawdown.
- From: AFP
- August 01, 2010 6:23PM
A Netherlands embassy spokeswoman said a small ceremony would take place today to handover to an American-led coalition of soldiers.
"Dutch forces have served with distinction in Oruzgan, and we honour their sacrifice and that of their Afghan counterparts during the Netherlands' tenure in the province," the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.
Around 1950 Dutch troops have been deployed in Afghanistan under ISAF, mainly in Oruzgan where opium production is high and the Taliban very active.
NATO had asked the Netherlands to extend the mission, which started in 2006 and has cost the lives of 24 soldiers to August 2011. But the request sparked a political row at home that led to the collapse of the coalition government in February and the end of the Dutch deployment...
We have planned for the transfer to the new multinational operation to ensure a smooth transition... We will maintain current capabilities," ISAF said.
The Dutch mission, known for its 3D approach of defence, development and diplomacy, has been described by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen as "the benchmark for others", and by US President Barack Obama as "one of the most outstanding" in Afghanistan.
Since the start of its lead role in Oruzgan at a cost of some €1.4 billion ($2.03 billion) to the Dutch state, the number of NGOs doing development work in the province has risen from six to 50, according to a Dutch embassy document.
Dutch chief of defence, General Peter van Uhm has said his troops had achieved "tangible results that the Netherlands can be proud of"....