August 22, 2004 (by Anonymous) - The Netherlands Air Force will send six F-16 fighter jets and up to 210 supporting troops to Afghanistan to boost security during the October elections.
The Cabinet also agreed to extend or six months the stay of the Apache detachment with six helicopters, near Kabul and to send a frigate to the Arabian Sea.
The additional 170 to 210 Dutch troops are being sent to Afghanistan as part of an expanded NATO
presence around the elections, slated for Oct 9. NATO has pledged to up its force in Afghanistan from 6,500 troops to around 10,000 for the vote.
The Dutch soldiers will spend eight weeks in the country, although their mission may be extended if a second round of voting is held.
is the only NATO member to be sending six F-16 fighters to the region, where they will support ISAF
(the International Security Assistance Force) from a US base in nearby Kyrgyzstan. It is, in fact, a renewed deployment for the Dutch air force, because Dutch planes also operated from the same base back in 2002 and 2003.
The F-16s will be accompanied by a KDC-10 refueling aircraft and will depart mid-September.
In addition, the Dutch are sending a C-130 Hercules transport plane with a crew of 15 to neighbouring Uzbekistan to provide logistical support to the NATO mission.
Other NATO members have also promised help, including Spain, which has volunteered to double its forces in Afghanistan to about 1,000 troops.