Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Dutch Go Home

This has always been an "American" war, with insufficient attention paid to the other nations whose troops fight and die as part of ISAF. The Brits, Germans, French, Italians, Canadians and Poles all have sizeable contingents here, as does Australia, Turkey and Spain. Click here for a full list of ISAF contributing nations.

Granted, not all of them are engaged at the same level of intensity. Most of the Turks are in Kabul, and most of the Italians are stationed in relative calm of the western provinces. In contrast, the Canadians and Brits are stuck in Helmand and Kandahar, two of the worst provinces in the entire country. And before anyone makes jokes about French military prowess, try and survive a week in Kapisa Province, where the Brigade de La Fayette keeps the bad guys mostly on the run.*

*Note the historical allusion in the name. Some people accuse the French of forgetting the long and firm ties of friendship with the US. Not true of the fusiliers in Kapisa.

The Netherlands has long had a small, but vital role here, securing the south-central province of Uruzgan, one of the most underdeveloped places in the country. With insufficient troops, wavering public and government support and last-generation technology, the Dutch have
struggled to pacify the river valleys around Tarin Kowt and implement numerous reconstruction projects.

Now the last of the Dutch are leaving Uruzgan Province, where they have battled against the Taliban for four years. Americans and Australians are already in the process of taking over the FOBs and outposts.

With all due respect to the Dutch soldiers who have fought hard in Uruzgan, perhaps someone should tell the politicians in The Hague that a good guiding principle in wartime is do nothing that causes your enemy to offer their public congratulations.

1 comment:

Arjen said...

All short-term politics to win some votes. At least the Air Force will stay. Most people are completely ignorant about their contribution anyway, so it doesn't hurt public opinion, or however you call that.