Dutch deploying four Apaches, 380 troops to Mali


The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) will deploy four of its Boeing AH-64D Apaches to Mali in support of the Minusma mission there. The aircraft will arrive in country by the end of this year, together with 380 troops.

The Dutch government on Friday announced that it would contribute to Minusma, the stabilisation mission in Mali, at the request of the United Nations. The Netherlands will be deploying approximately 380 people to Minusma, and in principle they will remain with the mission until the end of 2015. The majority of these forces will apparently be used to gather, process and analyse intelligence.

A number of Dutch police officials and civilian experts will also take part in the mission. Their focus will be on police training, fostering the rule of law, and security sector reform. This contribution dovetails with existing Dutch development cooperation efforts in Mali.

The four Apaches that will be deployed will mainly “gather information and protect Dutch personnel” rather than directly engaging in combat operations. They will be from 301 Squadron at Gilze-Rijen Air Base.
“It is in the Netherlands’ interest to help prevent the emergence of an unmanageable situation in the vicinity of Europe. The north of Mali has become a breeding ground for extremism and a sanctuary for terrorist training camps. Mali is located at the intersection of various routes for illegal migration and for smuggling drugs, weapons and people to the Mediterranean. The money generated by these activities is an important source of funding for terrorist activities,” the Dutch government said when announcing the decision to contribute to Minusma.
“International security, stability and a well-functioning legal order are to the advantage of the Netherlands. Another major consideration behind the decision to contribute to MINUSMA is a sense of solidarity with Mali’s civilian population, which suffers greatly from poverty, a lack of security and human rights violations. For that reason, it is important to contribute to efforts to help strengthen state structures that can secure equal rights and opportunities for ordinary people.”