Dutch Success in Afghanistan

Dutch success in Afghanistan may be ‘unique’
* Dutch focusing on protecting local population, not seeking out enemy
Daily Times Monitor, April 8, 2009

LAHORE: After US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week praised the Netherlands-led mission in Afghanistan as an inspiration for Obama’s new strategy, officials in The Hague have said the formula their forces have used successfully to stabilise Uruzgan might not work across the country.

Though “elements of what we’re doing can be copied, replicated in other provinces,” it’s impossible to use the model where violent extremists are more numerous and hardcore, Peter Mollema, a former top Dutch diplomat in Afghanistan, told Bloomberg. Mollema and his military counterpart were invited to Washington two months ago to brief General David Petraeus.

“We told them yes, we think civil-military cooperation is essential,” Mollema says. “But this is a slow and incremental process, and there is no magic wand.”

Different tactic: The Dutch have focused on winning over and protecting the local population rather than seeking out the enemy, and transferring decision-making and responsibility for security and development to residents, the Afghan army and police. With improved public safety, men who formed militias or allied with the Taliban for protection now have a reason to lay down their arms, the Dutch say.

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