Since the start of the NATO mission to liberate Afghanistan from Taliban rule the Kingdom of Belgium, part of the EU and a NATO ally, also sent military forces to help in what was called mission BELU ISAF 21. The military presence has been between 590 and 600 Belgian soldiers. The primary duty of the Belgian contingent has been to provide crucial security for the Kabul International Airport. It had been expected that the military mission would end last year but, at the request of President Obama of the United States, the mission was extended for a year. Obviously economic problems have been a major part of this with unfortunate reductions being made in the army because of budget shortages.Belgian forces have done great service on a number of special missions such as the rescue of a British journalist working for the New York Times in September of last year. The Belgian military has also sent a number of military instructors to assist in the large-scale campaign to train and prepare the Afghan military forces to function without foreign assistance and make it so the NATO forces can come back to their own homelands again. These are great heroes doing a great and noble mission in the world today. God bless the brave troops!
Aside from keeping open the vital Kabul airport, Belgian units (KUNDUZ 16) have also participated in the defense of the northern PRT's Kunduz (in the north where the majority of allied forces are German) and Mazari Sharif as well as Kandahar in the south. Since 2008 the Belgian air component has deployed four F-16's (the American "Fighting Falcon" attack jet) and 140 associated support troops to Afghanistan based at Kandahar Airport. The Belgian fighter jets operate in close cooperation with the Netherlands aircraft of the same type that have long operated out of that area. Plans have been approved to send more aircraft, probably 4 more F-16's and about 150 more troops to see the mission through.