THE DUTCH ARE UP TO THEIR ARMPITS IN MUSLIMS AND WE’RE LISTENING TO THEM?

TAKES NOTES? YOU NEED NOTES TO TURN AND RUN??

Canada takes notes from Dutch on Afghan withdrawal

By Bryn Weese, Parliamentary Bureau

OTTAWA – Canada can learn a thing or two from the Netherlands about how to pull its troops out of Afghanistan next year, according to Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff General Walter Natynczyk.

The Netherlands pulled their troops out of Afghanistan abruptly earlier this month.

Natynczyk and his Dutch counterpart, General Peter van Uhm, met in Ottawa over the past few days to discuss, among other things, the Netherlands’

recent withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan.

“On this visit, we’ve been able to talk about strategic issues with regard to NATO, strategic concepts with regard to moving forward on Afghanistan, but also receive lessons learned from the Dutch, from the Netherlands’

experience in terms of their transition of the mission,” Natynczyk told reporters at the Ottawa International Airport Friday.

Van Uhm said they also discussed tactics. “But we will not expose that in the media,” he said.

Perhaps the most important element of the Dutch troop withdrawal was painstakingly informing their U.S. and Australian successors, who took over from Dutch forces in Uruzgan province Aug. 1, van Uhm said.

Not only have U.S. officials travelled to the Netherlands for extensive briefings, but a team of 10 Dutch officials are headed to the US.shortly.

“It’s so that we can give our knowledge of this province to the Americans … so they can plan in the proper way,” he said.

Natynczyk said he sees the troop withdrawal like a relay race, because the mission — or race — isn’t ending.

“It’s a transition. The mission carries on,” Natynczyk said. “We’re going to hand off the baton in kind of a sprint to the next relay, in which the allies are going to continue to carry the baton.

“Our focus now is: How fast can we go for those who will take that baton from us?”

The nearly 3,000 Canadian troops in southern Afghanistan are scheduled to leave by summer 2011.

bryn.weese@sunmedia.ca

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