Task Force Uruzgan

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Oruzgan districts2.PNG

The Netherlands Army Task Force Uruzgan (TFU) was part of NATO's Regional Command South, International Security Assistance Force, in Afghanistan.[1] The Dutch lead one of the four Provincial Reconstruction Teams in the southern region of the country. 1,200 to 1,400 Dutch military, mandated by the Dutch Parliament in February 2006, will attempt to maintain order in Uruzgan province through July 2010. They will also attempt to develop political and economic infrastructure and to train the Afghan police.

The unit was located at one Main Operating Base (MOB) and a few smaller Forward Operating Bases (FOB): the MOB was Kamp Holland in Tarin Kowt, the capital of Uruzgan province. There are a few smaller FOBs Camp Hadrian 60 kilometres (37 mi) west of Tarin Kowt near a town called Deh Rahwod, FOB Coyote north of Deh Rawod near a place called Chutu and FOB Phoenix on the west bank of the Helmand river near the town of Tor Nasser.

The TFU was under command of Colonel Kees Matthijssen and consisted of a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), a battlegroup and an air detachment. The battlegroup consists of infantry with armored vehicles and artillery Howitzers, and is based around 13 Infanteriebataljon. Elements of 42 en 43 Brigadeverkenningseskadron are also based as part of the battlegroup. If needed, they could rely on support of F-16 MLU's, six AH-64D Apache and five Eurocopter AS 532 helicopters of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

The PRT was working together with Australian troops and soldiers of the Afghan National Army and Afghan police officers.

During June 2007 a Taliban offensive and a Dutch counterattack proved to be the heaviest fighting in Uruzgan province since ISAF extended its Area of Responsibility to the south of Afghanistan. A large part of Task Force Uruzgan's battlegroup took part in the Battle of Chora.

A total of 25 Dutch Soldiers, Airmen and Marines have been killed so far, including the son of general Peter van Uhm, the current Chief of the Netherlands Defence Staff, who was killed in a roadside bombing just one day after his father assumed command. 140 Dutch were injured.

On May 29, 2009 Marco Kroon, who fought in Afghanistan, was awarded the Militaire Willems-orde, the highest medal awarded by the Netherlands, which hadn't been given to anyone for over 50 years.

Timeline of Dutch casualties. Orange: casualties have been killed by accidents/suicides, Red: casualties due to combat.

In December 2009, the relatives of 21 Dutch military who died on foreign missions were presented with official government documents honouring the deceased. At a ceremony in The Hague Defence Minister Van Middelkoop (ChristenUnie) personally handed the documents to their relatives, who also received a commemorative sculpture.

Timo Smeehuijzen in Tarin Kowt, 90 minutes before the fatal explosion

In The Netherlands, the tradition to decorate military killed in action had been abolished, but was reinstated by Minister Van Middelkoop. Among the recipients was the Netherlands' Commander in Chief, General Van Uhm, whose son Dennis was killed in action in Uruzgan in April 2008, one day after father Van Uhm took over the command.[2]

All Dutch troops will withdraw from Uruzgan in 2010 as scheduled.[3] The United States would take over from The Netherlands, stated Van Uhm during a television talk-show in May 2010. There was a proposal that the US would continue the Dutch military's work in collaboration with Australia and Singapore, two other ISAF-members that also have troops stationed in Uruzgan.[4]

After August 2010, the Dutch will be replaced by an American-led coalition force including Australian, Slovak and Singaporean soldiers.

The departure of the Dutch troops started when the command was actually transferred to US and Australia on August 1, 2010. The Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement that the security situation in central Uruzgan province had improved "considerably" since the beginning of the Dutch operations. The province has 1,600 police officers of its own, a 100% gain in four years. There were 1,900 Dutch soldiers operating in Afghanistan. With this withdrawal, the Netherlands became the first NATO country to end its combat mission in Afghanistan [5][6][7][8][9][10]

Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadij congratulated the citizens and government of the Netherlands for this independent decision.[11] [12]

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