This story should have run in The Washington Times. I wouldn’t know. As you read this, I am on an airplane somewhere over the Atlantic.
The Dutch commander of a combined Dutch and Australian force in the southern province of Uruzgan on Wednesday defended the conduct of his troops amid hand-wringing from the Dutch Ministry of Defense in The Hague.
Beginning Friday the approximately 2,000 soldiers of 42 Battlegroup and Afghan police fought a pitched battle against hundreds of Taliban fighters in Chura, around 10 miles from the main Dutch base near the provincial capital of Tarin Kowt. By Wednesday the major fighting had ended.
The ministry briefly attempted to suppress media coverage of what was the most intense combat the Dutch army had seen in decades. The Dutch mission in Afghanistan, which the ministry sold as strictly a reconstruction operation, has been unpopular with the public.
But Lieutenant Colonel Gino Van Der Voet said he is proud of his soldiers. “They fought for five days straight. 42 Battlegroup gave all it got.”
The Taliban initiated the battle with a suicide bombing in Tarin Kowt that killed one Dutch soldier and around 10 Afghans, including several children. The fighting in Chura claimed one Dutch soldier and an undetermined number of civilians, including some who were executed by the Taliban, according to Van Der Voet. He said that the Afghan police had suffered “heavy casualties” but that exact numbers were not yet unavailable. Dutch officials reported as many as 100 Taliban killed.
Van Der Voet added that some ground was lost to the Taliban in the initial phases of the battle, but Dutch and Afghan forces counterattacked and retook the captured positions.
“We showed again that we can defeat the Taliban,” he said.