June 29, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Dutch minister of defense H.G.J. Kamp announced that, because of financial constraints, the participation in operation Enduring Freedom will not be prolonged after October 1st. From July 1st onwards, the Netherlands will also reduce the number of F-16's it is contributing to the European Participating Air Forces (EPAF) from six to four.
The Dutch F-16 unit based in Manas - Kyrgyzstan, delivers air support to the ground forces in Afghanistan in the battle against the Taliban and Al Qaida. The detachement started their operations on October 2002 with 440 servicemen and 18 F-16's from Denmark
and the Netherlands
. Norway has pulled back from the operation since April 1st 2003.
After an analysis, the Central Command (CENTCOM) has now indicated that the required number of jet fighters of the EPAF
can be reduced from twelve to eight. Both The Netherlands and Denmark will reduce their number of F-16s they contribute to the EPAF from six to four.