Having worked closely with Australian forces during the past four years, the Netherlands officially passed command of a patrol base in the Chora Valley, Uruzgan Province, to the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Combined Team-Uruzgan (CT-U) last week.
The Dutch Government decided in December 2007 that its forces would be drawn down progressively from Uruzgan in 2010, and this handover of command in Chora signals the beginning of transition to a new phase of coalition operations in the region.
Under the new multinational construct ‚Combined Team-Uruzgan‘ Australia will work closely with our US ally, Afghan forces and other International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) partners, including Singapore and Slovakia, to continue to build security and development in Uruzgan Province.
Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Mark Evans, says the Australian soldiers will proudly build on the achievements of the Dutch in the district.
„The people of Chora have seen considerable progress in the past four years,“ Lieutenant General Evans said.
„The Dutch soldiers should rightfully take pride in their achievements.
„Their approach has complemented our own which has delivered very positive outcomes for the local Afghans.“
„Australia has been their partner from the beginning and we will now, along with the Afghan Army and our new US partners, continue this vital mission in Chora.“ Dutch Commander Brigadier Kees van den Heuvel spoke of the significance of Chora Valley.
„Three years ago this company was here and because of the strategic importance of Chora, the Netherlands decided to stay and military history was written,“ Brigadier van den Heuvel said.
Captain Peter Allan of the 1st Mentoring Task Force paid tribute to the Dutch soldiers who had fallen in the Chora Valley. „Chora is a place where the Dutch have suffered casualties but their sacrifice was not in vain – their battlefield is now our battlefield and be assured their memory will be honoured.“
Continuing Australian and Afghan security force operations are focused on improving the lives of the local people by setting the security conditions for enhanced development in the areas of health, education, and public works.
ADF mentoring of the ANA, particularly the focus on tactical battlefield skills, leadership and effective command and control, reinforces ISAF’s commitment to assisting the ANSF to take responsibility for the security of Afghanistan.
For more information on the ADF’s operation in Afghanistan go to http://www.defence.gov.au/op/afghanistan/index.htm
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