Combat mission in Afghanistan is over
Today officially ended Denmark's 12-year involvement in the War in Afghanistan.
The final Danish combat troops left Camp Price in Helmand province earlier today, the military base that has served as their home for the past six years.
The dozen years in Afghanistan cost the lives of 43 Danish soldiers and resulted in total costs of approximately 15 billion kroner. An additional 211 soldiers were injured in Afghanistan.
"Denmark is one of the countries that have carried the toughest load in Afghanistan, and Danish soldiers have been on the front line since 2002,” Thorning-Schmidt said in March when announcing the summer exit. “They have provided an invaluable service for our safety and they have been part of helping the Afghans take care of their own security.”
The final soldiers leave Afghanistan with questions swirling back home over whether Denmark's involvement in the war was worth the costs. Earlier this month, Zenia Stampe, the defence spokesperson for coalition party Radikale, said that the war was a mistake and that soldiers were sent on the "wrong" and "impossible" mission of introducing democracy to Afghanistan.
Even Per Stig Møller (Konservative), the foreign minister when Denmark entered the war, admitted over the weekend that "of course it didn't go like we had wished".
According to military figures, Denmark sent 9,500 personnel to Afghanistan between January 2002 and 1 July 2013. Although the last combat troops have now left Afghanistan, a number of Danish defence personnel will remain in the country in order to train the Afghan police force and to man special units and tanks. According to reporting by Politiken newspaper, the roughly 300 Danish soldiers who will remain in Helmand province will participate in combat if necessary but will have the primary focus of securing the withdrawal of other Western forces between now and the end of 2014.
Those who left Camp Price today are expected to be back in Denmark within two weeks.