Earlier this year I visited Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, the largest overseas British military base built since the Second World War. I heard from our troops first hand about the importance of Danish and Estonian soldiers fighting alongside our forces to secure Afghanistan. And as we reflect on the valour and sacrifice of our own men and women in uniform, it is important to consider the efforts of these brave allies as well.
Denmark entered the Afghan conflict as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in 2002. Though initially sending engineers and Special Forces troops, there are now approximately 750 Danish troops participating in a variety of missions. Most troops are infantrymen fighting in Helmand province. Danish staff officers also serve in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Headquarters, and there are Danish support elements in Kabul and Kandahar.
Foreign Policy magazine reported last year that, concerning troop contributions and casualties, Denmark has the highest percentage of all countries when factoring population size. Of the 30 Danish casualties in Afghanistan, almost all are the result of hostile enemy fire or IEDs in Helmand Province.
In addition to infantrymen in Helmand, Danish doctors routinely serve in the field hospital at Camp Bastion where Coalition forces and Afghan civilians receive life-saving care. During the busiest three-month period in the hospital’s history, Danish medical troops were in command. They received more than 2,100 patients in the A&E department, spent 1,105 hours at the operating tables, and performed 1,112 operations.