Friday, May 1, 2009

Dutch Operations a Model for Afghanistan?

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration is looking at Dutch operations in Afghanistan as a possible model for future U.S. efforts. U.S. officials say that the Netherlands has better integration between civilian and military personnel, and has a strong focus on economic development. A Dutch military spokesman explains, "Over time, there's been a focus on pure development" in the Dutch forces, said Col. Gert-Jan Kooij, chief of operations for the Royal Netherlands Army's 13th Mechanized Brigade, which is deployed in Uruzgan. "We need to provide defense, but the priority is on development and diplomacy."Although Dutch forces are stationed in a relatively quiet area, their success at "understanding that the civilian components of a counterinsurgency strategy need to be intertwined with the military," is apparently widely recognized.

But the article also notes that the U.S. is having difficulty finding enough civilian experts willing to go to Afghanistan. The idea that the U.S. can implement the Dutch model on a much larger scale, and in areas with far greater Taliban activity, may be little more than wishful thinking.

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