UK Royal Air Force personnel depart Kandahar Airbase


Kanadhar

UK Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel have now left Kandahar Airbase in Afghanistan, ending British military operations in the region.

The departure of the RAF's 904 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) signalled the withdrawal of final British soldiers from southern Afghanistan.

Kandahar Airfield was used by RAF for combat operations since 2001.

Following a ceremony that saw the Union flag lowered for the last time, the EAW and their colleagues from the Joint Force Support Unit boarded a C17 aircraft bound for the UK.

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "Looking to the future, the UK's focus now switches to training the Afghan Army's future officers and providing continuing support to the security ministries in Kabul."

"Operation Herrick started in 2006, RAF personnel across all trades and specialisations have worked tirelessly to support allied operations in Afghanistan with strategic and tactical air transport from the UK to the battlefield. "

RAF Operations deputy commander air marshal Greg Bagwell said: "Since Operation Herrick started in 2006, RAF personnel across all trades and specialisations have worked tirelessly to support allied operations in Afghanistan with strategic and tactical air transport from the UK to the battlefield, providing air-to-air refuelling, vital close air support, intelligence and reconnaissance gathering, force protection and a multitude of other roles."

The UK has had a military presence in Afghanistan since October 2001, following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the US.

A total of 453 British soldiers have died in the 13-year-long Nato-led International Security Assistance Force mission.

Last month, the UK military handed over Camp Bastion to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), paving the way for the final security transfer to the Afghan military.

The 330,000-strong ANSF assumed lead responsibility for security across Afghanistan in June 2013 and has since been responsible for 99% of operations, including the security for the successful presidential elections in April.

Britain, along with coalition forces, will now focus on training and mentoring Afghan soldiers, as part of Nato's Resolute Support mission.


Image: The UK Royal Air Force personnel watch as the Union flag is being lowered for the last time at Kandahar Airbase, Afghanistan. Photo: courtesy of Crown copyright.

Defence Technology