Peacekeeping: Dutch Get Tough For Afghanistan

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May 16, 2006: A battalion of Dutch troops has arrived in southern Afghanistan, along with six of their AH-64 helicopter gunships. There was a big debate in the Dutch parliament over the decision to send their troops to southern Afghanistan, where the peacekeeping would entail a lot more action than earlier contingents of Dutch troops got up north in Kabul. The Dutch are still smarting over the bad time they had in 1995, when a battalion of Dutch troops stood aside while Serb troops murdered thousands of Bosnian civilians that had sought protection from the Dutch soldiers. This time, the Dutch troops are determined to stand their ground, no matter what.

After much debate, some 80 percent of the members of parliament approved sending the Dutch troops into harms way. The Dutch army is unionized, and the union demanded more training and an elimination of some of the annoying customs of peacetime soldiering (what American troops call "Mickey Mouse" crap like making things look nice instead of spending more time at the rifle range.) So more training, in Afghanistan, is being arranged.

The Dutch have had several hundred of their commandos fighting in Afghanistan over the last four years. This has provided the Dutch with experience in operating in Afghanistan, and the commandos have helped the infantry headed their get ready. In addition to their own AH-64s, the Dutch are also sending eight of their F-16s to Afghanistan as well. The Netherlands treats English as a second language, so most of the Dutch troops will have no problems working directly with American, Australian or British troops. That will be a big help, because the Dutch want to give their troops more Afghanistan specific training before sending them out.

 


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