‘Army to contract out Afghan intelligence’

The Dutch army in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan is to contract out the collation of intelligence on roadside bombs and Taliban positions to a private Israeli firm using British staff reports NRC on Friday.

For the last two years the ‘extremely sensitive, crucial information’ needed by Dutch troops in Uruzgan has been delivered by the army’s non-manned Sperwer aircraft, the paper says.
But shortly the four Sperwer units will have reached the end of their life and a new system will be required.
The defence department has told MPs, reports the paper, that as from March 1 British personnel from the company Aeronautics Defence Systems will take over the intelligence task of the Sperwer aircraft. ‘In other words: hired staff from a private Israeli company’ says the NRC.
Life and death
The British staff will operate from the Dutch military HQ at Kamp Holland using the Aerostar aircraft. ‘The commander of the Dutch mission will shortly make life-or-death decisions with the help of the Aerostar,’ says the NRC.
Leiden professor for international relations Fred van Staden tells the paper that such a vital task should not be in the hands of a private company. He was vice chairman of an advisory committee which said last year that the cabinet should not contract out core military activities.
The cabinet adopted the main points of the recommendations and in October last year defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop told MPs ‘I can’t imagine that you would privatise intelligence capacity. That would be a contradiction in terms.’
Van Middelkoop yesterday survived a motion of no-confidence in parliament for misleading MPs about the duration of the Dutch military presence in Uruzgan.
The Netherlands has some 1,700 soldiers in Afghanistan and will hand over the leadership of the Uruzgan operation in August 2010.

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