Peacekeeping: The Dutch in Afghanistan


November 8, 2005: Despite the widespread belief in the U.S. that the Dutch military union would have a negative impact on discipline and such, when the Dutch announced that they were sending troops to Afghanistan, the union’s primary concern was about whether the troops would have sufficient legal guarantees to protect them from prosecution for violent engagements.

The Netherlands has about 1,200 in Afghanistan, serving in the 12,000-strong NATO- peacekeeping force that supports Afghan and U.S. operations. These troops are a mixture of special operations forces (reportedly some 250) and regular troops. Although casualty figures are not clear, apparently only two Dutch troops have died in Iraq (none in Afghanistan) due to hostile action. However, the Dutch mission in Afghanistan has become the most accident-plagued and expensive operation in recent Dutch history. Literally dozens of Dutch troops have been injured - though fortunately none killed - and millions of dollars worth of equipment has been destroyed over the past year, mostly as a result of accidents, notably three helicopter crashes, an Apache (at $31 million) and two Chinooks ($36 million apiece), the most recent on November 1st, which resulted in injuries to three of the troops being transported.




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