February 2, 2008 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Belgium will deploy four F-16AM fighters and 140 more troops in Afghanistan within this year.
Some F-16AM's from the BAF's 2nd wing secured on the ramp at KAIA on in July of 2005. [Photo by P. Bogaert/DG-IPR]
currently contributes 370 troops to the 41,700-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF
) in Afghanistan, most of them maintaining security at Kabul Airport.
The move came in response to a NATO
call for more troops to be deployed in Afghanistan.
For four months starting from September, 100 Belgian troops will support Dutch troops stationed in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan.
The four F-16 jets will be deployed in Kandahar (KAF) from September 1.
The Belgian detachment is to operate along their Dutch colleagues who have been present in Afghanistan with 8 F-16s since the end of 2006 in the framework of the European Participating Forces’ Expeditionary Air Wing (EEAW).
Twenty military instructors are also to be sent to Afghanistan after October 1 to help train Afghan military personnel. They will be based at either Kabul or Kunduz.
The US and Canada, whose troops face fierce fighting and have sustained considerable losses in the south, have consistently lobbied for other NATO allies to increase their commitment there.
This week, Canada threatened to pull its troops out of Kandahar unless other NATO members increased their manpower in the south. Following that threat, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates wrote to all NATO members asking them to send more men to the south.