US likely to replace Dutch Afghanistan mission
The US will probably take over from the Netherlands as lead nation to the Nato-led ISAF mission in the Afghan province of Uruzgan, stated Peter van Uhm, chief of the Dutch armed forces, during a television talk-show on Thursday.
The US will continue the Dutch military's work in collaboration with Australia
and Singapore, which also have soldiers stationed in the southern province.
A proposal to this extent is awaiting approval by Nato’s mission command in
Kabul, a spokesperson for Van Uhm confirmed. The number of soldiers involved
The Netherlands will withdraw from Uruzgan in August after four years as Nato’s lead nation there. In February, the Dutch government fell over the possible extension of the deployment.
The Netherlands currently has 1,700 soldiers deployed in Uruzgan. Australia has a total of 1,550 soldiers in Afghanistan, most stationed in Uruzgan. Singapore currently has a small contingent in Uruzgan, which operates sensor systems there and facilitates the hospital at the Dutch headquarters, Camp Holland.
As soon as Nato approves the plan, the Dutch defence department will be able to negotiate the possible sale of Camp Holland equipment. According to Van Uhm's spokesperson, the department has "good hope" it will be able to sell some materials to the US or another country.
According to the defence ministry, the armoured residential containers used by the Dutch are popular with coalition members. The Australians currently use the same containers. The largest version costs 45,000 euros. "It is still great material," the spokesperson said. By selling off equipment, the department hopes to reduce the cost of the retreat, which is currently estimated to be 200 million euros.