Friday, April 06, 2007

Dutch Soldiers Stress Restraint in Afghanistan

The New York Times has an interesting article showcasing the Dutch military approach to fighting insurgency in Afghanistan. Whether their approach is truly different or not, the article posits that Dutch 'restraint' is the reason for which they have suffered no combat fatalities since it began operations in Uruzgan province last August.

The approach- and the views of its detractors- can be summed up with this paragraph: 'Its [Dutch military contingent] counterinsurgency tactics emphasize efforts to improve Afghan living conditions and self-governance, rather than hunting the Taliban’s fighters. Bloodshed is out. Reconstruction, mentoring and diplomacy are in. American military officials have expressed unease about the Dutch method, warning that if the Taliban are not kept under military pressure in Uruzgan, they will use the province as a haven and project their insurgency into neighboring provinces.'

The Dutch Commander makes a nice turn of phrase that I can only imagine CIMIC officers will want to adopt in the future: “We’re not here to fight the Taliban,” said the Dutch commander, Col. Hans van Griensven, at a recent staff meeting. “We’re here to make the Taliban irrelevant.”