Belgium to send combat troops to Afghanistan?
The startling announcement made by the Belgian army head came as a surprise to the country’s political leaders.3 September 2008
BELGIUM -- Belgian army General Major Eddy Testelmans’ announcement to dispatch combat troop to Afghanistan came as a surprise to the Belgian government.
The head of the army is in Afghanistan with Belgian Defence Minister Pieter De Crem, where he spoke of sending ground troops to Afghanistan next March.
The army chief said Belgium could provide additional support for the NATO operation in the country and the troops would be used to carry out patrols.
Testelmans’ proposal to send more troops does not seem to have been talked through with political leaders.
Defence Minister De Crem has not yet reacted to the General Major's announcement.
However, the office of Prime Minster Yves Leterme has made it clear that sending combat troops to Afghanistan is a premature idea and the government has yet to make a decision on it.
Former Defence Minister Flahaut says the army chief’s plans are new and that the announcements form part of a strategy to prepare the public for the dispatch of extra troops.
Duties of Belgian troops in Afghanistan
In February 2007, the Belgian government then headed by Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt decided to send 60 extra troops to Kunduz in northern Afghanistan.
The additional troops will train Afghan forces and are scheduled to leave in February.
Currently, Belgian soldiers in Afghanistan have the job of securing Kabul Airport.
[flandersnews.be / Expatica]