Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert: “The mission in Mali matters. We will therefore provide a robust contribution. A contribution for which our armed forces are ready. Our military personnel are well-trained, professional and motivated.”
The greater part of the Dutch contribution will consist of military personnel. They will be deployed in the Gao area, mainly to gather, process and analyse intelligence. “In addition to special forces, we will deploy our sensor capability, unmanned systems and 4 Apache attack helicopters. We will be the eyes and ears of the UN, enabling them to operate more effectively”, Hennis explains. The Apaches will also be used as a deterrent and to protect the Dutch personnel.
|Archive photo: Dutch Special Forces in Afghanistan|
Not a combat mission
The Dutch analysts will be stationed at the headquarters in Bamako and Gao, with the long-range reconnaissance personnel (special forces) operating in the field. Hennis: “It is certainly not a combat mission. But that does not mean to say that our troops will never find themselves in a combat situation. And if they do, they will be able to act. These are robust units and they have a firm mandate.” The special forces may also be given specific assignments, such as dismantling arms depots and arresting suspects.
Training Malian police
The military personnel will be joined by a number of police officers and civilian experts. They will focus on training the Malian police force, developing the constitutional state and reforming the security sector. This contribution ties in with the Dutch development cooperation efforts that are already in place in Mali.
Northern Mali had become a breeding ground for extremism and a haven for the training of terrorists. The objective of the UN’s efforts is to prevent a return to that situation once and for all. Mali lies at a crossroads of smuggling routes for drugs, weapons, people and illegal migration, which lead to the Mediterranean. The money made from these practices is an important source of funding for terrorism.
It is in the interest of the Netherlands to prevent an uncontrollable situation from emerging close to home. A trading nation such as the Netherlands benefits particularly from international security, stability and a properly functioning rule of law. But solidarity with the civilian population of Mali is also an important consideration for participation in MINUSMA. They have been hit hard by poverty, human rights violations and a lack of security. It is therefore important to contribute to the strengthening of government structures which will offer the population equal opportunities and rights.
(Dutch Ministry of Defence, 1 November 2013)