Netherlands First NATO Country to Pull Out of Afghanistan

Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Mark Leijsen, Dutch soldier killed in Afghanistan, age 44

The Dutch have had enough and are pulling out of Afghanistan, becoming the first NATO country to leave and marking what could be the beginning of many U.S. allies withdrawing from the war. After the Netherlands removes its 1,900 troops from Afghanistan in September, Canada is expected to withdraw its 2,700 soldiers in 2011, and Poland (2,600 troops) in 2012.

The pullout of these countries could put domestic pressure on the governments of Germany and the United Kingdom to scale back their forces.
The Dutch, who were primarily deployed in opium-rich Uruzgan province, will be replaced by troops from the United States, Australia, Slovakia and Singapore. During their four years in Afghanistan, 24 soldiers from the Netherlands were killed and the government spent at least $1.8 billion. The increasingly unpopular war led to the collapse of the Dutch coalition government in February when the leading party appeared prepared to continue the Dutch military presence in Afghanistan.
The U.S. is expected to begin removing some of its 100,000 troops by July 2011, although Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that, in reality, only a small number of troops would leave at first.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


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