Return from KAIA
On Wednesday, October 17th 2012, the last group of military personnel of the Belgian Detachment which was responsible for the protection of the military installations at Kabul International Airport (KAIA) has returned to Belgium, concluding 10 years of presence at the Afghan capital.
The Belgian Air Component Airbus A330 (minus its logo) arriving at Brussels Airport with the last KAIA Detachment.
On 20 November 2002 the Belgian Council of Ministers had agreed that Belgium, together with Luxembourg would participate in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which led to the deployment of a first Belgian/Luxembourg Detachment (BELUISAF) to KAIA as of February 2nd 2003. From the beginning, the main tasks of the Belgian- troops at KAIA were to secure the airfield and support the Air Operations. (A detachment of 4 Belgian Air Force F-16AM fighters was maintained at Kabul between June 5th, 2005 and 17 January 2006 in the framework of operation Eastern Eagle (see Belgian Wings special feature: ISAF VIII -Operation "Eastern Eagle". The multitude of tasks executed by the protection detachment included: Access control, perimeter patrols on foot or in armed vehicle, man observation posts an search for explosives with specially trained dogs. This was accomplished with the help of other elements of the ISAF, but especially in collaboration with Afghan Police and the Afghan National Security Force, in order to extend the Government of Afghanistan’s authority and influence thereby facilitating the country’s reconstruction and contributing to regional stability. Over the last 10 years of Belgian presence at KAIA some 7804 members of the Belgian Defence have been operational on the airfield in 29 rotations. Peak moment was in 2008 when almost 1000 Belgian military were posted at Kabul. The mission was accomplished in difficult circumstances in which the military had to face small arms fire, indirect fire from mortars or Improvised Explosive Devices (IES) and luckily very few Surface to Air attacks on incoming or outgoing aircraft in the vicinity of the airport. The Belgian presence at KAIA was marked by two major incidents which both were executed by suicide bombers, one on 31 August 2007 injuring 4 Belgian and a second attack on September 8th, 2009 in which another 5 Belgian were wounded. The Belgian presence at Kabul was highly appreciated by the international as well as the local authorities and is regarded as a significant contribution to the stability in the area.
Mission accomplished, welcome home.
© Daniel Brackx (October 2012)
Last updated 03/10/12 18:18 Daniel Brackx