Security issues hinder Dutch military mission in Afghanistan: report

Commander of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant Admiral Rob Bauer watching a dog demonstration during a visit to Dutch soldiers on mission in Afghanistan, 25 Dec 2017
Commander of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant Admiral Rob Bauer watching a dog demonstration during a visit to Dutch soldiers on mission in Afghanistan, 25 Dec 2017. Photo: Defensie

The Netherlands' mission in Afghanistan is being hindered by security issues, newspaper AD reports after visiting the Dutch soldiers on the mission with the new Commander of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant Admiral Rob Bauer. Soldiers who advise the local police officers often can't leave their base, there are too few security guards to accompany the advisors and some of them speak very little English, according to the newspaper.

Only half of the 100 advisors, which include 10 Dutch soldiers, can be deployed. The advisors' mission is to give the local police tips on how they can improve their operations. This mission is a cooperation between 21 countries. 

The Dutch leader of the international company of military security guards told AD that the main problem is that there are too few armored vehicles. Managing these security officers is also a difficult task. The Dutch leader manages four teams consisting of Dutch, Hungarians, Croatians, and Montenegrins. Only about 30 percent of these soldiers speak more English than just 'yes' and 'no'. This makes planning difficult, and can create problems if a unit gets into trouble. Something that hasn't happened yet, he added. 

Doctors also expressed concerns to Lieutenant Admiral Bauer, according to the newspaper. It is not always possible for doctors to get to an injured soldier within an hour, especially in bad weather and due to the lack of infrastructure in the country.

Bauer acknowledged to AD that the working conditions in Afghanistan are difficult, but he emphasized that the safety of the Dutch soldiers there is not at risk. "There is an operational commander, who must ensure that troops don't go outside if it is not responsible to do so", he said. According to Bauer, working with so many countries on this mission is an opportunity on learning how to cooperate better. "The complicated thing about this type of mission is that they are murderously slow and that it is a real struggle for all parties involved. Should you then rather pull the plug? Without us, the Afghans were much worse off", he said to the newspaper.

The Netherlands providing security itself, so that at least the Dutch soldiers can do their work unhindered, is not an option, according to Bauer. "That means that we have to let other things go."

 

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