Afghan role is mission impossible: army chief

Efforts to eliminate the Taliban in Afghanistan is proving to be a waste of time and effort, according to the most senior Dutch military leader in the country.

Writing in the latest issue of the defence ministry magazine, colonel Arie Vermeij says the job Dutch soldiers are doing to control Taliban numbers is like ‘mopping the floor with the tap still running’. Vermeij, based in Kandahar, is in charge of the reconstruction programme in six southern regions in Afghanistan. If neighbouring Pakistan controlled its borders better, things would be a lot easier, the colonel wrote. ‘Some 40% of the Taliban, especially the leaders, make up the hard core and arrive well trained, straight from Pakistan,’ he says. ‘We capture lots of the Taliban fighters or make sure they can’t operate any more, but new ones keep on coming from Pakistan and other countries.’
Defense minister Henk Kamp said on Friday afternoon he had no plans to increase the number of Dutch soldiers serving with the UN in Afghanistan. Nato might want more troops ‘but they will not be coming from the Netherlands,’ he said, after the weekly cabinet meeting. The Netherlands has 1,800 troops in Afghanistan, mandated to help with reconstruction. The military union AFMP/FNV said Dutch soldiers were not able to do the work they had been sent to do. ‘Fighting and rebuilding’ do not go hand in hand,’ said a spokeswoman. ‘It’s one or the other.’

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