Dutch commander criticises US military
18 January 2006
AMSTERDAM — The commander-in-chief of the Dutch Armed Forces has suggested the performance of the US military has had little or no effect in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan.
“The actions of the Americans have had little or no effect. The Taliban was dealt with – and that was very necessary – but the country is no more stable as a result,” General Dick Berlijn told ‘Elsevier’ magazine.
The general’s remarks are surprising as he has backed calls for the Netherlands to take part in the 6,000-strong Nato-led mission to Uruzgan.
Dutch MPs began laying the ground work on Tuesday to begin a proper debate on contributing 1,200 soldiers. Some of the parliamentarians want to access to intelligence reports on the situation in Uruzgan.
The debate has been delayed for weeks as a result of wrangling with the government. Nato and the US have called on the Dutch to decide quickly on whether to take part in the mission.
Berlijn warned in Elsevier that MPs should not get bogged down in the details of the operational side of the mission. “I think it is a bad idea for MPs to involve themselves in all military considerations – otherwise people in their armchairs in The Hague will read a newspaper article and will suddenly want to send extra troops or weaponry,” he said.
Discussing the ‘Dutch approach’ to overseas missions in conflict zones, Berlijn said: “We know you can’t just roar through the streets in tanks with closed turrets.”
“Some countries”, he said, “react in an unnecessarily harsh manner in conflict zones, thereby generating unnecessary resistance”.
Berlijn said Dutch troops rely on their discipline to maintain their own tempo if challenged by violence. The troops are also trained to respect local cultures. There is never a question of ‘lift your burka’ and searching the wearer. We have never frisked women and children in Iraq.”
Berlijn noted it was very important the reconstruction of the ISAF mission, which Nato will command, and the US-led hunt for the Taliban, Operation Enduring Freedom (OF), do not conflict each other.
“There must not be a situation in which we work on reconstruction one day and the bulldozers of the OEF flatten everything again the next,” he said.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news + Afghanistan