The Netherlands is to extend its participation in NATO's Operation Unified Protector by 3 months. This was announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Uri Rosenthal, and the Minster of Defence, Hans Hillen, on Wednesday 21 September. The Dutch contribution will continue to consist of a Dutch minehunter, 6 F-16s, two of which are held in reserve, and staff capacity.
The North Atlantic Council decided on 21 September to extend Operation Unified Protector in Libya. The mission is aimed at protecting the population, enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya and monitoring compliance with the arms embargo. The security situation is not yet stable enough for the mission to be concluded. Military deployment remains necessary in order to protect the civilian population. Periodic assessments will be made to establish whether the operation can be concluded sooner.
From Decimomannu air base in Sardinia, the Dutch F-16s are enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya. Besides patrolling Libyan airspace, they monitor the enforcement of the arms embargo and gather intelligence. The sensors on board the F-16s can be used to create a ground and sea picture, making it possible to check specific suspect objects, vehicles and ships.
HNLMS Vlaardingen patrols off the coast of Libya to enforce the arms embargo, by identifying and intercepting suspect vessels. The minehunter is also regularly deployed to keep the approach routes to, for instance, Misrata, Tripoli and Brega free from explosives.
In addition to the deployment of fighter aircraft and a minehunter, the Netherlands will also continue to be active in the staffs of various headquarters. Dutch military personnel are also part of the crews of NATO's AWACS aircraft. In total, some 170 Dutch military personnel are involved in Operation Unified Protector.