More Dutch soldiers head for Afghanistan

The Netherlands is set to send an extra 100 troops to the Afghan province of Urguzan where some 1,600 soldiers are already serving, the cabinet decided today. The extra manpower, described as a ‘limited increase’ in cabinet circles, will be used to protect troops working on reconstruction projects in the southern part of the country.

According to this week’s defense ministry review, Dutch soldiers have engaged in several gun battles with Taliban fighters in recent days. Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets have also been involved in action involving Canadian troops in Kandahar, the defence ministry said. The Netherlands takes over control of the Nato peace-keeping mission in southern Afghanistan on November 1. Yesterday in parliament, foreign minister Ben Bot was keen to continue to refer to the Dutch mission as ‘bringing stability and reconstruction’. He warned that expectations should not be too high and rebuilding the country would be a long process. In total, the Netherlands has invested almost €1 mln in small scale local projects.
Meanwhile, the Telegraaf reports that the Dutch military is poised to use eight unmanned reconnaissance planes known as Sperwers to track down Taliban fighters. The ground-controlled spy planes, equipped with infra-red cameras, beam live pictures back to base 24-hours a day. Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan are already using Sperwers.

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