Expatica news

Dutch return to Kabul with Apaches

30 January 2004

AMSTERDAM — The Netherlands has agreed to provide six Apache attack helicopters to the Nato-led security stabilisation force in Afghanistan.

The six aircraft, plus 130 personnel, will be stationed for six months at the international airport in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

The helicopters will be used by the international ISAF force for reconnaissance and escort duties.

The Netherlands has a squadron of 30 Apache twin-engine helicopters, which can be armed with rockets, missiles and machine guns to engage targets on the ground, including heavy armoured vehicles.

The Dutch provided 650 troops to the ISAF force after the Taliban regime was ousted at the end of 2002. Despite several reports of injuries from mine explosions and security concerns due to a series of rocket attacks, most of the troops have since returned home safely.

The Netherlands and Germany handed over joint command of ISAF to Nato in August 2003.

Four months later, Dutch Defence Minister Henk Kamp turned down a request from the then Nato chief, Lord Robertson, for transport helicopters. Kamp said those helicopters were earmarked for peacekeeping duties in Bosnia and Iraq.

But he agreed to ask the Dutch Cabinet to consider providing the Apaches, a proposal formally approved by ministers on Friday.

Former Dutch Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer took over as Nato Security General at the beginning of the year. He has been touring Nato member states seeking more troops and equipment for ISAF which is expanding its security patrol region beyond Kabul.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news + Afghanistan