First Spanish reinforcements head for Afghanistan
17 August 2004, MADRID - The first contingent of Spanish troop reinforcements bound for Afghanistan left the Getafe air base near Madrid on Tuesday morning.
17 August 2004
MADRID - The first contingent of Spanish troop reinforcements bound for Afghanistan left the Getafe air base near Madrid on Tuesday morning.
The advanced guard of 70 soldiers and airmen will form part of the ISAF (International Security and Assistance Force) build-up ahead of the general elections planned for October.
They flew out aboard an Air Force C-130 Hercules transport aircraft headed for Kabul, from where they will transfer to a base in the north of Afghanistan.
The group comprises specialist engineers from the Army’s 11th Regiment based in Salamanca and the 12th in Zaragoza; support personnel and parachutists from the Air Force, and a transmission unit, and will join 125 Spanish servicemen already deployed in the country.
Over the next few days, there will be a number of supply flights to Afghanistan before the bulk of the 1,000-plus troop reinforcements promised by the Spanish government begins flying out.
The complete Spanish contingent, including more parachutists, logistics staff, medical teams and air support, is due to be fully operative by mid-September.
Spain agreed to increase its presence in Afghanistan after being criticised by the United States and other allies for pulling its troops out of Iraq this spring.
The Socialist government said it was only adhering to a promise made long before its 14 March general election victory.
But critics said the move gave the wrong signals to terrorists, coming just a few weeks after Islamicist groups killed 191 people in the 11 March train bombings in Madrid.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news