Colonel raises spectre of Afghan failure
15 September 2006, AMSTERDAM — The highest Dutch military officer in Afghanistan has raised serious doubts about the chances of the reconstruction mission's success.
15 September 2006
AMSTERDAM — The highest Dutch military officer in Afghanistan has raised serious doubts about the chances of the reconstruction mission's success.
Colonel Arie Vermeij said in the military newspaper published on Friday that the mission was a waste of time and effort.
Based in Kandahar, Colonel Vermeij is the deputy commander of the NATO reconstruction tasks carried out by international troops in the six southern regions of Afghanistan.
But Vermeij said the operation was encountering difficulties, admitting that the Taleban are frustrating reconstruction efforts with bomb attacks and armed raids.
The colonel said the second problem was the cultivation of poppies for heroin and combating the drugs trade.
Vermiej said the mission would be assisted if Pakistan started guarding the border better.
"Unfortunately, al-Qaeda supports the Taleban, which gets help from Pakistan," he said.
Vermeij added that the Pakistan government did not appear capable to cracking down on the Taleban or keeping the border closed.
He said about 40 percent of the Taleban, primarily leaders, enter Afghanistan from Pakistan, which arms and equips them.
"We take a lot of Taleban prisoners or eliminate them, but more fighters continually come from Pakistan and other countries," he said.
But the Netherland's highest ranking military officer, General Dick Berlijn, rejected the claims. He said Vermeij had indicated the situation was difficult, but not that the mission was impossible.
He said continued discussions are held with Pakistan in a bid to restrict the movements of the Taleban, but that it was an inhospitable terrain and that the tribal structure played a role as well.
General Berlijn said he maintained faith in the success of the mission.
Military union AFMP/FNV said Vermeij's comments were not motivating for the soldiers already in Afghanistan and that the mandate of the mission was not right because the troops are not carrying out reconstruction tasks.
"Fighting and reconstruction go quite badly together. Do one or the other," a union spokeswoman said.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Dutch news