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ELSEVIER: Dutch Commander Thinks Americans Too Quick on the Trigger

While he supports the sending of additional Dutch troops to Afghanistan, Dutch Commander, General Dick Berlijn, is nevertheless critical of the way American forces have acted, remarking that 'some countries' have taken 'unnecessarily harsh actions and as a result evoked unnecessary resistance.' He is also insistent that the commander of U.S. counter-insurgency operation, Operation Enduring Freedom, not have control of NATO forces helping rebuild and keep order in the country.

ELSEVIER: What happens if the [Dutch] military won't go [as part of an expanded NATO force into more dangerous areas of Afghanistan]?

Dick Berlijn: In that case, Uruzgan will be condemned to the status quo. American actions have had little or no effect so far. The Taliban has been dealt with - which was necessary - but the country has not become more stable. What is necessary now is the drilling of water wells, the organization of police forces and projects to employ people. The Dutch have shown elsewhere that they can take on that task. We know that you can't just race through the streets in tanks with closed turrets.

ELSEVIER: Is the Dutch approach also safer for military personnel?

Berlijn: I am not making predictions about the number of casualties. I know that some countries in regions of conflict have taken unnecessarily harsh actions and as a result evoked unnecessary resistance. When Dutch troops are being challenged with violence, they will have the discipline to hold their own. We continue to respect the local culture. We won't all of the sudden say: "Lift the burqas and search." We have never searched women or children in Iraq.

ELSEVIER: Do the Americans with their Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) have to stay away from Uruzgan in order for the Dutch to be successful with the NATO stability mission ISAF?

Berlijn: If it is necessary to hunt for terrorist in that area, the OEF commander has to consult with the NATO command. We can't have it that one day we engage in reconstruction and the next day the OEF bulldozers destroy everything again.

ELSEVIER: An American sub-commander maintains his influence on the NATO mission. Does a European commander need to exercise influence on OEF?

Berlijn: The presupposition of the operation is that the NATO command is in charge. He is the highest commander in that region. He can forbid OEF activities. There are still negotiations about lines of command, but it is clear that OEF cannot exist at the expense of ISAF [International Security Assistance Force].

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 21st, 2006 at 01:24:36 AM EST
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