Mr Nelson gave the warning to 12 Dutch parliamentarians in the Afghanistan capital of Kabul this week, The Australian newspaper reported.
The Dutch Parliament is considering whether to pull its troops out
of the Oruzgan province following a series of casualties and the
turning tide of public opinion in the Netherlands about the conflict.
Australian engineers and special forces are based alongside the
Dutch troops and have had increased contact with Taliban fighters in
The Dutch forces provide vital helicopter air cover for the
Australians working to build checkpoints and patrolling around the
Oruzgan town of Tarin Kowt.
Australian commanders fear their forces would not be able to operate without that cover, the paper reported.
“We are not in a position to increase our numbers in Afghanistan and
we won't and we can't take the lead position in Tarin Kowt,” Mr Nelson
“There are Australian soldiers who owe their lives to the Dutch Apache helicopters and they play a critical role.
“The consequences of a Dutch withdrawal, if we can't find another partner, is that we would be far too exposed to continue.”
The Dutch have 2,200 troops at the Camp Holland base at Tarin Kowt and have suffered the deaths of six soldiers.
Time for parliament to discuss bringing UK troops home.