Thursday, March 26, 2009

Putting the lie to manufactured controversy

Further to this post, in which Mike Blanchfield gets deservedly sorted out, Tony at brings our attention to these remarks by the Dutch general commanding RC South right now:

"If there is one thing that makes my skin crawl it is the term 'Dutch approach,'" says general-major de Kruif, the Dutch Isaf commander for south Afghanistan. "The Dutch are doing excellent work - but it is no different from what the British, Americans and Canadians are doing."

He's not saying that to suck up to a Canadian, British, or American audience, either - the article's from a Dutch publication. The rest of the interview is worth reading, but these passages stuck out particularly to me:

As far as general-major Mart de Kruif is concerned, the 17,000 extra US troops are going exactly where they are most needed: to Kandahar and Helmand provinces. Read: not to Uruzgan province, where the Dutch mission too has been asking for more ground troops. De Kruif may be Dutch, but he is above all the commander of the Nato stabilisation force Isaf for áll of south Afghanistan.

"In the centre of Helmand province, you're not just fighting against the Taliban but also against the narco industry," De Kruif says during an interview at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar. "And we're not talking about your small farmer growing opium poppies out of poverty either: Helmand is where the opium is made into heroin. The city of Kandahar is arguably even more important to the Afghans than the capital Kabul, so it is crucial to have a sense of security there. We are going into the places where there is the most resistance and where we are the least present."


Why are no extra ground troops being sent to Uruzgan? Dutch commanders there have often complained about a lack of troops.

"Name one commander who doesn't. Uruzgan is not where the military action is right now. And they are getting an extra American helicopter unit, which will make it easier for them to manoeuvre their troops around Uruzgan."


I also think that those Taliban leaders who are capable of launching major operations are in Helmand and Kandahar rather than in Uruzgan. In Uruzgan, the Australian special forces are taking the fight to the Taliban leadership. The Dutch are making good use of the momentum this has created."

I'll say it again for those who are slow on the uptake: One team, one fight.


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