Boris Johnson announces the end of the British military mission in Afghanistan | Army
Boris Johnson has declared the end of Britain’s military mission in Afghanistan after a hasty and clandestine exit of the last remaining troops 20 years after the post-9/11 invasion that began the “war on terror”.
The Prime Minister assured MPs that the intervention, which claimed the lives of 457 British soldiers, would end even as the mutiny continued. The Taliban was rapidly acquiring territory In rural areas with the withdrawal of British and other forces.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Johnson emphasized that “all British forces assigned to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan They are now returning home.” While he did not reveal the exact timetable of departure for security reasons, the prime minister added, “I can tell the house that most of our personnel have already left.”
In a separate defense briefing, the commander of the armed forces, Sir Nick Carter, acknowledged that the recent news from Afghanistan had been “extremely bleak” but said the Afghan army had regrouped to defend urban areas.
While it was “fair to say that the Taliban now control nearly 50% of rural Afghanistan” and that the Afghan army also “would not be able to reach [western] Air Force,” from within the country, he said he hopes there will eventually be peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
The 750-strong British contingent, part of a broader NATO stabilization mission, has been quietly leaving the country over the past few weeks after US President Joe Biden said he wanted to withdraw Most of the remaining 2,500 US combat forces are soldiers.
The flag-raising ceremonies were held largely in secret as British forces withdrew, the most recent on June 24, when the Union flag was handed over to the British ambassador.
Critics said the secret withdrawal was an affront to veterans, who have so far been deprived of a last minute. Defense sources said the secrecy was at the request of the United States, claiming operational security.
Although British politicians and generals, including Johnson, have said they do not want to leave at this point, Biden’s insistence and the failure of other countries to offer an alternative fighting force means the UK and other NATO countries must withdraw.
Johnson has also resisted calls for a public inquiry into the war, along the lines of Chilcot Report on Iraq, called in the House of Commons by Tobias Ellwood, Chairman of the Defense Select Committee.
“I don’t think it’s the right way forward at this point,” Johnson said, noting that the British military had “already done a comprehensive internal review of the lessons to be learned” when British forces were Ended combat operations in 2014. He added that Chilcot’s investigation took seven years and “cost millions”.
Britain will leave behind a small number of troops in support of a US-led protection force for diplomats in Kabul, although the Ministry of Defense has not specified how many troops are left on the ground.
The RAF may be involved in providing air support from air bases outside Afghanistan, after last week’s abandonment of the main Bagram base. The loss of easy access to air power is a major loss to the Afghan army’s capabilities as it fights to hold back the Taliban’s advance.
The Foreign Office also intends to keep an embassy in its current location in Kabul, although it will not, at least initially, be guarded by British forces. The UK government will provide £100 million in aid and £58 million to the Afghan Defense Forces.
Carter said that “no provincial capital” has fallen in Afghanistan and that “it is entirely possible that the Afghan government will defeat the Taliban long enough for the Taliban to realize they have to talk.”
But he admitted that was one of three future scenarios, the other scenarios being the return of the warlords and the victory of the Taliban. Last month, it emerged that US intelligence was assessing that the Taliban might be able to retake Kabul within six to 12 months after the withdrawal of US forces, reflecting the pace of their recent advance.
Carter said British, US and other forces contributed to fundamental changes in Afghanistan. “There is now a civil society in Afghanistan,” Carter said, citing improvements in access to electricity, media freedom and education, with another 8.2 million children now in school, including 3.6 million girls.
Carter added that a third of the population now lives in government-controlled cities, more than in 2001, with 10% of the population – or 3 million people – living in the capital, Kabul alone.
Carter said British soldiers who have served can hold their heads “very high” and paid tribute to soldiers who have lost their lives over the past 20 years. The British Army now had a new “fighting spirit” that it had learned from the fighting in Helmand. “They were not defeated on the battlefield,” he said.