In August 2010, the Dutch redeployed their forces after being active in Afghanistan for four years, aiding and abetting ISAF with around 2000 troops each rotation. Initially, the contribution after August had been discussed fiercely, but the collapse of the Netherlands’ coalition government in February 2010 meant also the end of the discussion about prolongation of the mission of Task Force Uruzgan; the withdrawal of troops is definite and more or less completed by the time of writing. In a recently published article about the performance of the Dutch forces in Uruzgan, which I wrote together with Dr. B.A. de Graaf, we considered the efforts, the operations and the lessons learned by analyzing three operations in Uruzgan: operation ‘Perth’ in July 2006; ‘Spin Ghar’ (White Mountain) in October 2007; and ‘Tura Ghar’ (Sabre Mountain) in January 2009, all three of which were conducted in the Baluchi valley in Uruzgan. One of our most important conclusions is that clearing operations had very limited positive effects and mainly negative effects, if carried out on their own. This comes as no surprise as troops throughout Afghanistan were confronted with the same effects when the cleared areas were not hold thereafter. Therefore, I thought it would be worthwhile to look once again, and more deeply, at the complexity of ‘holding’ areas after ‘clearing’. In my view – and views of many others - this is the most crucial phase, but also the one which is the most difficult to execute. Based on the Dutch experiences in Uruzgan I introduce a model for executing the hold-phase. I focus on the tactical level, but otherwise none of the principles I introduce is really new; it is simply a question of interpreting and applying the existing COIN principles.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/george_dimitriu/6/