Netherlands to intensify military mission in Afghanistan and end involvement in Mali
The Dutch Cabinet today agreed to step up the Netherlands' contribution to the NATO mission in Afghanistan and to extend it by several years, to the end of 2021. It also decided to end the Dutch contribution to the military mission in Mali in 2019.
In recent years the international security situation has changed dramatically, in some areas for the worse. Specific threats include Russia's ongoing and alarming actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the capabilities and influence of jihadist groups in regions surrounding Europe and the resulting terrorist threat, and the issue of irregular migration to Europe. Given this reality, international partners are asking more of the Netherlands and other allies. For this reason, the Netherlands' involvement in missions and operations is an integral part of the government's international approach to ensuring our national security. In this way we contribute to a more secure world, which also means a more secure Netherlands.
Years of cutbacks, combined with increasing international pressure and responsibilities, have taken their toll on the armed forces. It goes without saying that the armed forces can only be deployed if doing so is a responsible course of action. The recently published report by the Netherlands Court of Audit about the Dutch involvement in the UN's MINUSMA mission in Mali reaffirmed the importance of this. The Court of Audit's conclusions were explicit factors in the Cabinet's decisions concerning the various missions.
The Netherlands will end its current contribution to the UN mission in Mali as of 1 May 2019. Since 2014 the Netherlands has been providing high-end capabilities to MINUSMA and has helped increase the mission's effectiveness. These efforts have met with a great deal of appreciation internationally. In order to counter threats such as terrorism and irregular migration, the Netherlands will remain actively involved in the Sahel region in a variety of ways.
Partly at the request of NATO and Afghanistan, the government has decided to step up and extend the Netherlands' contribution to NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. Unlike in previous years, this time the contribution will be extended for several years, to the end of 2021. In addition to the 100 military personnel currently deployed, another 60 military personnel will work closely with Germany over the next few years to train, advise, assist and accompany a unit of the Afghan Special Security Forces in Mazar-e Sharif. What is more, six police advisers will be attached to the NATO mission in Kabul, to help strengthen Afghanistan's security apparatus. The Netherlands will continue working in Afghanistan to help find a political solution to the conflict, as this is the only way to achieve lasting stability.
Lastly, at the upcoming NATO summit on 11 and 12 July the Netherlands will announce its intention to extend its contribution to NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence in Lithuania to the end of 2020. Here too, the government has opted for a contribution lasting several years, in order to render the deployment as effective as possible and provide more continuity in the military's plans.