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Mission Uruzgan

Mission Uruzgan: Collaborating in Multiple Coalitions for Afghanistan

Robert Beeres
Jan van der Meulen
Joseph Soeters
Ad Vogelaar
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 340
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  • Book Info
    Mission Uruzgan
    Book Description:

    Mission Uruzganprovides on-site testimony of the Dutch military mission in Uruzgan, Afghanistan from 2001 to the present day. Proffering fresh data and probing analyses, this extensive examination of a controversial deployment addresses a variety of crucial issues related to Dutch involvement in Afghanistan, from the politicking that led up to the utilization of military tactics to the rules of engagement on the ground. This collection brings together an assortment of learned scholars to deliver a wide range of insights into the problems faced by Dutch soldiers.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1501-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. List of figures and tables
    (pp. 9-10)
  2. 1 Introduction Among hosts, allies and opposing forces; the Dutch military in Uruzgan
    (pp. 11-14)
    Jan van der Meulen, Robert Beeres, Joseph Soeters and Ad Vogelaar

    From the autumn of 2001 onwards, Dutch armed forces have been involved in military operations in Afghanistan. This engagement found its culmination in a four-year period as lead-nation in the province of Uruzgan that started on August 1, 2006 and ended on August 1, 2010. For the Netherlands the latter deployment has been a remarkable episode, whether looked upon from a military, a political or a societal perspective. Significant media attention familiarized the Dutch public with the mission and the multi-faceted character of modern soldierhood. Those who were wounded or lost their lives were a stark reminder of the toll...


    • 2 Brussels calling National politics under international pressure
      (pp. 17-32)
      Jan van der Meulen and Mirjam Grandia Mantas

      It is fruitless to debate whether domestic politics really determine international relations or reverse. The answer to that question is clearly “Both, sometimes”. The more interesting questions are “When?” and “How?”

      Putnam, 1988: 427

      On June 16, 2005, the Dutch parliament was informed by the government about the latter’s intention to deploy troops in the southern part of Afghanistan, in a joint effort with the United Kingdom and Canada. Officially and formally, this so-called ‘notification’ is the starting point for finding out the desirability and feasibility of a military mission. In reality and for all practical purposes, the prospects and...

    • 3 Legitimizing the use of force Legal bases for operations Enduring Freedom and ISAF
      (pp. 33-46)
      Paul Ducheine and Eric Pouw

      “Well spoken, knight”, said the jester, “If only you would care to remember that fighting evil does not render one virtuous! Good and evil are enemies, but there may not be much to distinguish between them”

      Tonke Dragt, 1987: 305

      Good and evil are separated by a very thin line. This is common knowledge to the military, especially to their legal advisors. The jester - in the above quotation – eloquently expresses the fact that doing ‘the right thing’ is not sufficient (for knights). ‘The right thing’ has to be executed in ‘the right way’ as well. This double standard...

    • 4 Getting there and back Organizing long-distance military logistics with customers in mind
      (pp. 47-64)
      Ton van Kampen, Paul C. van Fenema and Tim Grant

      The word ‘expeditionary’ in expeditionary operations evokes the image of climbers conquering a challenging mountain. Those climbers and their support infrastructures are focused on achieving the top in a physically hostile environment, as quickly as possible, and carrying a minimum of resources. Climbers spend substantial time and effort in planning the operation beforehand, transporting themselves and their equipment to the area of operations, recovering everything back again afterwards, and in refurbishing their equipment for the next expedition. Similarly, organizations responsible for projecting military force across the globe invest in resources to minimize their footprint while enhancing their required effectiveness.



    • 5 Controlling the use of force Legal regimes
      (pp. 67-80)
      Paul Ducheine and Eric Pouw

      Legitimacy is vital to all military operations. As we introduced in Chapter 3, the legal component of legitimacy (and the legal framework) can be divided in two parts. First, thelegal basisfor a specific operation. Second, the rules that are applicable during the conduct of operations (Ducheine, 2008). The latter is referred to aslegal regimes, the central theme in this chapter. Both parts are related with the social component of legitimacy: moral and popular support. Excessive use of force or violations of the applicable rules during the conduct of operations can have an injurious effect on public support...

    • 6 Military ethics and Afghanistan
      (pp. 81-92)
      Peter Olsthoorn and Desirée Verweij

      For many of today’s armed forces, peacekeeping, humanitarian, and rebuilding missions are becoming increasingly important. In these missions militaries are duty-bound to exercise self-control, trying to practice a non-threatening style that is respectful with the local population, and characterized by minimal use of force (Van Baarda and Verweij, 2006: 8). Clearly, the rationale behind suchhearts-and-minds approaches, and the restraint exercised, is to a large extent self-serving: winning over the local population is essential for the success of today’s missions, something that as a rule can only be reached by limiting the number of civilian casualties as much as possible....

    • 7 On your own in the desert The dynamics of self-steering leadership
      (pp. 93-106)
      Ad Vogelaar and Sander Dalenberg

      In Uruzgan units of platoon size performed various orchestrated assignments outside the base in an often dangerous and ambiguous environment under the command of a young lieutenant (as the on-scene commander). These units protected logistic convoys of large trucks transporting goods from Kandahar to Tarin Kowt, or from Tarin Kowt to Deh Rawod. Furthermore, they conducted reconnaissance assignments and observed areas where the Taliban could be present. Also, these units searched qalas in order to find weapons or substances with which explosive devices could be produced. On the other hand, these same units tried to make friendly contacts with the...

    • 8 Strain and stress Role ambiguity in an unfriendly environment
      (pp. 107-118)
      Tessa Op den Buijs, Wendy Broesder and Marten Meijer

      Since the Cold War many Western armed forces have participated in various international military operations. These military operations, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, are characterized by preventing, controlling and ending violent conflict. Military activities in defence, diplomacy and development are captured as a Comprehensive Approach or Whole of Nation Approach, which have been endorsed by the nato summit of Istanbul and Lisbon in 2007 and 2009 as the new nato policy. In these activities soldiers are chasing insurgents, helping the local population, reconstructing buildings, restoring local government and are policing more than ever before. However, sometimes they have to...

    • 9 The use of air power in Uruzgan
      (pp. 119-132)
      Guus de Koster

      The way airpower is used to assist ground operations has changed dramatically over the last few decades. A mere twenty years ago a pilot while flying over Bosnia-Herzegovina would get directions from theJoint Tactical Air Controller(jtac) to ‘look for the white house with the red roof’, today the jtac will look at his laptop and say, ‘If you look about 50 meters to the left of your crosshairs’. The description of the house is fine if it makes a distinguishable feature. However, anyone who has visited Bosnia knows that a great number of houses are white – and...

    • 10 Vipers or tigers? Early Dutch special forces operations in Uruzgan
      (pp. 133-146)
      Michiel de Weger

      Few larger academic studies have been done on the work of Special Forces (sf). Most of the publications on these secretive and ‘sexy’ organizations are autobiographical or straightforward (historians’) descriptions of operations. Many of these discuss American or British units. Only a few have tried to develop theories in this field of military operational studies (Kiras, 2006; McRaven, 1995). Except for (master) theses and articles in military journals the topic has more or less escaped academic attention in the Netherlands, too. Only one book exists on Dutch sf (Krijger and Elands, 1997). It provides an overview of the history of...

    • 11 Planning dilemmas in coalition operations
      (pp. 147-160)
      Ton de Munnik and Martijn Kitzen

      After Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the Netherlands government decided to participate in the enforcement of a trade embargo within the framework of the Western European Union. This deployment was based on United Nation’s (un) Resolution 665, which mandated nations to enforce the trade embargo with naval forces. Two Dutch frigates, hmnlsWitte de Withand hmnlsPieter Floriszaccompanied by two Belgian mine hunters sailed on 20 August to the ‘Desert Shield’ area of operations. At the moment of departure, a lot was unclear. Mission and command relationships were not defined. Rules of engagement were not adapted...

    • 12 Trust thy ally Multinational military cooperation in Uruzgan
      (pp. 161-176)
      Joseph Soeters, Tom Bijlsma and Gijs van den Heuvel

      Multinational military cooperation is not really new. Yet, compared to colonial times and the Cold War, multinational military missions seem to have become more inevitable these days. There are at least two reasons for that (Soeters and Tresch, 2010). Over the last decades the budgets of many national armed forces have not increased proportionally to the growing number of assignments the militaries have been set to do. Since the financial crisis military budgets are even being reduced in real terms. Hence, national militaries need to work together because they do not have enough resources on their own in order to...


    • 13 Reconstruction through construction
      (pp. 179-194)
      Julia Wijnmalen, Jasper Kremers and Edwin Dado

      The general goal of Taskforce Uruzgan (tfu) was to ‘promote stability in Afghanistan and support the authorities’ reconstruction efforts’ (Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2006). This multidimensional and ambitious goal was to be obtained through reconstruction activities, development and by creating a secure environment (Mollema and Matthijssen, 2009). The aim of reconstruction is often partially materialized in construction activities (Barakat, 2002; Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2006; Greet, 2010; Kamphuis, 2010; Kremers et al., 2010). The focus in this chapter is on construction projectsoutsidethe compound as it is in these situations that construction activities can be a very...

    • 14 Talking to strangers, learning to listen
      (pp. 195-206)
      René Moelker and Michelle Schut

      Benjamin Lee Whorf claimed language ‘may be shaped by the world, but in turn shapes the world’. In his study of Hopi language, Whorf found that linguistic structures determine not only interpretations of the world but that they actually shape the physical, social, economic, political and symbolical world people live in. Because Hopi language does not have words comprising the concept of time, neither words for the future, nor for the past, it would be impossible for a Hopi Indian to understand the western way of long-term planning. Neither would the Hopi be able to refer to the past. Activities...

    • 15 Stimulating entrepreneurship in Uruzgan IDEA-officers focusing on private sector development in post-conflict environments
      (pp. 207-220)
      Eric-Hans Kramer, Rosa Nelly Trevinyo-Rodríguez and Desirée Verweij

      The scene of military officers training and advising local entrepreneurs will not be the first one that comes to mind when thinking about Mission Uruzgan. Yet, a specific unit of the Dutch Armed Forces, called idea, was specifically deployed for these purposes. The acronym idea stands forIntegrated Development of Entrepreneurial Activitiesand refers to a unit composed of reserve officers. In their everyday lives, these reserve officers are consultants, entrepreneurs, administrators or bankers and they were deployed in Uruzgan for three months. During these three months they worked onPrivate Sector Development. Although it might appear like an exotic...

    • 16 Enhancing Uruzgani Governance The viability of a PRTʹs civil-military network
      (pp. 221-234)
      Mirjam Grandia Mantas, Myriame Bollen and Sebastiaan Rietjens

      Today’s security debates frame fragile states such as Afghanistan to be both security threats ánd development challenges. To bring about reconstruction and stabilization in a fragile state, good linkages between the diplomatic, developmental and military domains at all levels are required (Hilhorst, 2008). In line with foreign policies in countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada, The Netherlands has conducted its stabilization efforts in the Afghan province of Uruzgan ‘comprehensively’, integrating defence, diplomacy and development. The Dutch ‘comprehensive approach’ includes joint analysis, intensive international civil military cooperation and the investment of adequate resources, long-term commitment, support from parliament and...

    • 17 Task Force Uruzgan and experimentation with organization design
      (pp. 235-250)
      Eric-Hans Kramer, Erik De Waard and Miriam de Graaff

      The Netherlands Armed Forces aims to be a versatile expeditionary force. The label ‘expeditionary’ refers to the fact that the Netherlands Armed Forces intends to deploy organizational units all over the globe for all kinds of crisis response operations. In the last two decades the Netherlands Armed Forces has sent various configurations of army, air force, navy, and military police units to countries such as Bosnia, Eritrea, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The ambition to be expeditionary creates a specific organizational challenge. To be specific, because of the uniqueness of each crisis response mission there are no suitable crisis response units readily...

    • 18 Military engagement in civilian healthcare in Uruzgan An ethical perspective
      (pp. 251-264)
      Myriame Bollen, Peter Olsthoorn, Sebastiaan Rietjens and Masood Khalil

      In 2006, the Afghan Research and Evaluation Unit (areu) reported existing available health services in Afghanistan to exceed services provided at any time in the past. However, this applied mainly to cities and regions where health workers and the population were feeling secure. In Uruzgan, at that time, only half of the facilities planned by the Ministry of Public Health (Moph) had been established and were functional (areu, 2006).

      Four years later, assessing the Dutch engagement in Uruzgan from 2006-2010, The Liaison Office (tlo) found the number of health facilities in Uruzgan to have doubled; partly encompassing unstable areas. Particularly,...


    • 19 Dutch Treat? Burden sharing in Afghanistan
      (pp. 267-280)
      Marion Bogers, Robert Beeres and Irene Lubberman-Schrotenboer

      During the nato Lisbon Summit in November 2010, United States president Obama asked the 28 nato member states to keep up contributing to the operations in Afghanistan. In particular, he requested the Netherlands to contribute to training the Afghan police. However, the political situation of the Netherlands at that time prohibited duly announced commitments. This did not cause Dutch Prime Minister Rutte to worry about the prestige of the Netherlands in nato. He stated ‘[t]he Netherlands already sent thousands of troops to Afghanistan, far outreaching the number one could expect when considering the size of our population’ (NRC Handelsblad, 2010)....

    • 20 Taking stock The social construction of effectiveness
      (pp. 281-294)
      Sebastiaan Rietjens, Joseph Soeters, Jacqueline Heeren-Bogers and Christiaan Davids

      Assessing the effectiveness and progress of efforts to ‘build states in order to build peace’ (Call and Wyeth, 2008) is inevitable for several reasons. Politicians want to know what is being achieved with the resources that they have allocated to the state building endeavours abroad. They want to judge the progress that is being made in terms of moral values, cost-efficiency and general effectiveness. Do they get value for the money and the lives that are at stake? This is the issue of political accountability.

      At another level yet no less important is the issue of command and control. Commanders...

    • 21 Itʹs not over till itʹs over Sharing memories at the home front
      (pp. 295-308)
      Manon Andres and Natasja Rietveld

      Deployments, such as the ones to Uruzgan, do not end when service members return home. For an extensive period of time, they have performed their jobs in a hazardous environment, with ambushes and violent attacks and the risk of being wounded or even killed. They may also have witnessed violation of human rights of the local population. It is not always easy to ‘turn the switch’ to a whole new reality, such as a safe environment like home. Meanwhile, family members have also lived their own experiences. After reunion, it is vital to bridge the gap between the two different...

    • 22 Books and bikes Noises and voices of veterans
      (pp. 309-326)
      Esmeralda Kleinreesink, René Moelker and Rudy Richardson

      There are lots of differences in the way veterans share their stories. Some veterans keep quiet and seldom talk about past experiences from conflict zones. Others are hard to stop when they have commenced their ‘battle’ stories and relentlessly repeat them to the same group of people, family, friends or colleagues. These are the stories in the genre ‘Grandpa is revisiting Balikpapan in Indonesia again’. The stories also differ regarding the audience the narrators are addressing. While some only seek the intimate audience of friends and family, others broadcast their life events to larger audiences, producing ego documents and near...

  7. 23 Epilogue Looking back and moving on
    (pp. 327-334)
    Joseph Soeters, Jan van der Meulen, Robert Beeres and Ad Vogelaar

    In June 2011, President Obama officially announced the partial withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. At more or less the same time the French, the German and the Spanish governments proclaimed similar plans, after the Canadian government had done the same somewhat earlier. These announcements came one and a half years after the coalition partners in the Dutch government had not been able to agree on another follow-up of Mission Uruzgan after the first prolongation two years earlier. The Dutch had been the first nato country to end their contribution to the mission in Afghanistan, against intense political pressure from...