Dutch military union backs longer Iraq stay
5 August 2004, AMSTERDAM — Dutch marines serving with the international stabilisation force in Iraq should stay longer if necessary, the chairman of the military trade union AFMP/FNV said Thursday.
5 August 2004
AMSTERDAM — Dutch marines serving with the international stabilisation force in Iraq should stay longer if necessary, the chairman of the military trade union AFMP/FNV said Thursday.
Speaking to news broadcaster NOS during a visit to the 1,418 Dutch troops stationed in Iraq, Chairman Wim van den Burg said his union would not oppose an extension of the deployment if the local authorities could not cope and no replacement for the Dutch contingent was forthcoming.
Van den Burg said there would be great disappointment among the troops if their good work in the past 12 months was undone by withdrawing the force prematurely.
The Netherlands has 632 soldiers based in As Samawah in the southern province Al Muthanna and six smaller detachments in other areas of the country.
On Wednesday night, the Anglo-Dutch camp at Shaibah in southern Iraq came under attack from insurgents, but there were no injuries. Just over 100 Dutch personnel are stationed at Shaibah.
The Dutch patrol areas in southern Iraq have been reasonably peaceful despite an upsurge of incidents in recent months.
In May, a 36-year-old Dutch sergeant was killed in a hand grenade attack in As Samawah and three Iraqi civilians, one alleged to be a looter, have been shot and killed by Dutch troops. A criminal investigation was launched after the killing of the alleged looter.
The Dutch Defence Ministry responded to Van den Burg's remarks, saying that the extension of the Dutch mission in Iraq was not under consideration. Under current planning, the Dutch force is due to return from Iraq in March next year, leaving Iraqi police and soldiers to handle security and public safety.
Van den Burg also used the television interview on the last day of his three-day visit to the troops to express concern about the ability of some of the soldiers' equipment — such as food storage boxes — to handle the high temperatures in Iraq.
The army acknowledged there were problems, but said that its equipment complies with Nato standards and is designed for temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius.
But al-Muthanna province is one of the three hottest places on Earth and temperatures can rise above 50 degrees. This occasionally led to the need to improvise, an army spokesperson told news service NOS.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news, Iraq, Dutch stabilisation force