Since 2002 began to provide frigates and F-16 fighter jets, the Dutch presence in Afghanistan lasted for nearly 20 years. Now that all foreign forces will leave the country before September 11, 2021, the question remains what the Dutch contribution is.
The outgoing Secretary of Defense Bijleveld made it clear that the mission has been successfully completed. She said on Thursday: “Of course, nothing has been arranged yet, but the country is no longer a base for terrorists carrying out attacks in our capital.” NOS Radio 1 news.
“Landing on the ocean”
The Dutch soldiers are not exactly the same. Many people are proud of their contributions, but some of them question the results of Uruzgan’s combat mission and Kunduz’s police training mission.
Lieutenant Colonel Gwenda Nielen served twice in Afghanistan and participated in two missions. “In Uruzgan, I have a feeling that we are doing well and I can make a contribution myself. But during the training mission in Kunduz, I did have a feeling, like falling into the sea. I think many soldiers did it. Agree.”
Soldiers like Nelson are not alone.let’s start last year For example, a report on the Kunduz mission was published, which concluded that the progress of the police training mission was too positive.
State Department investigators pointed out that the number of Afghan special workers trained was less than the number reported, and the certificate was wrongly issued to the special agents. All of this is in order not to lose political support for the mission, which is already very small.
The experienced Nielen used a metaphor to explain that the Kunduz mission has no chance of success anyway. “If you train an army to get rid of weeds but do nothing to the roots, it will continue to grow.” In order to solve potential problems, she believes a comprehensive approach is needed.
Reporter and Afghan expert Beit Dam said that there are two points of view from the outcome of Uruzgan’s combat mission. “From the national defense and the Afghans.”
“At the Ministry of Defense, the commanders themselves said: Trial and error We see that the enemy is much more complicated than we thought, and more dialogue is needed with the Afghans. On the spot, you can conclude that there is no ideological war, and the struggle mainly exists between powerful families. “
Damm explained: “The Dutch see them as a cash cow for their own interests.” “They can point out where the Taliban should live and where the soldiers will go. The Ministry of Defense did realize that after a while, many people were killed.”
The dominant military method has created many enemies, and the Afghans must now deal with these enemies.
Dam said that the Afghans in turn knew that the Dutch were the important “hardware” leaders in Uruzgan. The Ministry of Defence paved the way between the provincial capital Tarin Kowt and Chora, built a technical vocational school for boys, and built a local airport with a bullet-proof roof.
“But now people are sitting together.” The dominant military method has created many enemies, and the Afghans must now deal with these enemies. Afghan soldiers fought the Taliban near Tallinn Kovot. The reporter said: “One night, the bombing was heavy, and the next night was quiet. This is a frightening and unstable situation. The boys working for Westerners want to escape. “
“The Dutch’s efforts are disappearing, and our involvement is broader: War on terror. That is the Afghan side of the story. “
According to Lieutenant Colonel Nelson, results were indeed achieved in Uruzgan. According to her, this is also possible because of the extensive approach, which is what the Kunduz mission lacks.
“I think maybe we are a bit ambitious. In Uruzgan, we can make a difference locally, but change the whole country like this? If your ambition is to implement democracy in one country, it is more than military intervention. .”
During the mission in Afghanistan, 25 Dutch soldiers were killed. The second expansion of the mission caused too much political discussion, which eventually led to the downfall of the Balkenende IV cabinet in 2010. With the police training mission in Kunduz, the requested support can be provided to the United States in different ways.
Will that make a difference? Dam said: “It’s hard to tell. After the mission, there was fierce fighting in Kunduz. I don’t know how many trained Afghan agents are still alive.”
She believes that the direct contact between the Dutch and the Afghans is very valuable, and Dum witnessed this when visiting the training mission. “There, soldiers can indeed see the progress between the population and the trainees.”
It is not clear how the situation in Afghanistan will continue after all foreign forces have withdrawn. Last year, the United States and the Taliban reached a historic agreement to end this battle. The Taliban talked about peace with the Afghan government, but the process was slow.
The outgoing minister, Bijleveld, admitted that a period of uncertainty in the country is approaching: “No agreement has been reached between the Afghan government and the Taliban. We must be realistic: the withdrawal may have an impact on the results achieved. “