The top Dutch military official has advised the government to reduce its presence in the NATO force in Afghanistan, a newspaper reported Friday.
De Telegraaf did not specify its sources. It said armed forces chief Gen. Dick Berlijn advised the Cabinet at a briefing this week to reduce the country's presence from around 1,800 soldiers at present to around 1,200 — closer to the amount originally agreed to when the Netherlands began its participation in August 2006.
Defense Minister Eimert van Middelkoop said no decision has yet been made as to whether the mission in the restive southern province of Uruzgan will be extended past its completion date next summer, or in what form.
Australia has said its decision to remain in the region will depend in part on whether the Dutch stay, and Canada, with 2,500 troops, is also closely watching the Dutch decision.Why yes, we are. There is also word that the Dutch will draw down troops yet extend the mission on a smaller scale, likely to placate NATO. The Dutch face the same problem as we do, with their public supporting withdrawal. It will be interesting to see another nation, facing the same dilemma, signal their decision, while we have instead shuffled off our debate to the Manley panel, to buy time due to the unpopularity of the mission. It will be a striking contrast in leadership.