Soldiers’ return delayed for seventh time

August 13th, 2013

This article is more than 10 years old.

Faulty planes, bad weather and a Muslim holiday have contributed to a series of delays that has kept the Danish soldiers from making it home

The last group of soldiers waiting to leave Afghanistan has been delayed for a seventh time, frustrating loved ones back home, who have been waiting since July 26 for their return. This time it was a faulty navigation system with the airplane that led to the delay.

“We have to admit that we've been unlucky with these flights. We've seen bad weather, technical problems and pure bad luck,” Col Søren W Andersen, the Air Force head of operations, said in a press release. “We, and of course the soldiers waiting to leave Afghanistan to go home and see their loved ones, are hugely disappointed.”

The military has been criticised for poorly planning the return of the last 700 soldiers from Afghanistan, who stood down from combat operations last month. They were to return home on six chartered flights, but the last group has now been waiting almost three weeks to get home. Previously they were delayed by bad weather and the Muslim holiday Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan.

”We had this flight booked with an American company that can fly directly from Afghanistan to Copenhagen Airport and have a lot of good experience with these types of flights,” Andersen said. “That their plane then runs into technical problems is really unlucky and disappointing, but everyone is working hard to solve the problems so the plane can take off for Denmark.”

But for some of the loved ones who have been forced into an excruciating wait, the treatment of the soldiers is unacceptable.

“The whole family is deeply frustrated,” Jette Andersen, a mother of one of the waiting soldiers, told DR Nyheder before the latest delay. “This had been the longest weekend you could ever imagine. We don’t sleep at night. It’s inhumane for the soldiers, but certainly also for us loved ones.”

The flight is expected to get clearance to take off sometime today.


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