Thursday 09 December 2021

Cut Afghan troops, extend mission: general

The Netherlands’ top military official Dick Berlijn is advising the government to reduce the number of soldiers serving with NATO forces in Afghanistan but to extend the Dutch mission for two years, the Telegraaf reported on Saturday.

The paper said the general told ministers last week that the Dutch presence should be cut from around 1,700 to 1,200 – the amount originally agreed to when soldiers were sent to the region in 2006.
The government has not yet decided whether to keep troops in Afghanistan past the August 2008 deadline. Defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop said he regretted the leaking of the general’s report. But he declined to comment further on the cabinet’s deliberations, apart from to say ‘all advice will be taken into consideration’.
Eleven Dutch soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since the mission began and last week the cabinet agreed to send a further 80 soldiers because of the deteriorating security situation.
AP reported that US defence secretary Robert Gates is attending an informal NATO meeting in the Netherlands on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the mission. The Netherlands says it wants other countries to shoulder some of the burden. Australia and Canada are both watching the Dutch position closely.

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