Boris Johnson is ‘lost in admiration’ for British troops who oversaw the airlift in Kabul as he writes an open letter to mark the end of the 20-year Afghan war
- PM praised all involved in Operation Pitting – the evacuation efforts
- Argued that the sacrifice of troops killed in the war was not in vain
- It came as the last military and diplomatic personnel left Kabul on Saturday
The prime minister said he was ‘lost in admiration for the heroic efforts of everyone’ involved in Operation Pitting
Boris Johnson has praised British forces overseeing the airlift in Kabul when he sent out an open letter marking the end of two decades of British involvement in Afghanistan.
In an open letter, the prime minister said he was “lost in admiration for the heroic efforts of everyone” involved in Operation Pitting, the evacuation attempts to remove British nationals and Afghan allies from Kabul airport.
As the operation drew to a close, with the last military and diplomatic personnel leaving Kabul on Saturday, Mr Johnson wrote, “There has been nothing comparable in speed and scale, certainly in my life.”
And he acknowledged that after 20 years, Afghanistan’s fall to the Taliban would have been difficult to comprehend.
“Over the past two decades, many thousands of you have devoted years of your lives to service in Afghanistan, often under the harshest of circumstances. I realize in particular that this will be a particularly difficult time for the friends and loved ones of the 457 servicemen who gave their lives,” Mr Johnson said.
But he repeated his message that their sacrifice was not in vain, saying: ‘Our aim in Afghanistan was simple – to protect the UK from harm – and you succeeded in that pivotal mission.
“In the past 20 years there has not been a single terrorist attack from Afghan soil against the UK or any other Western country. I know this was not due to chance or luck.
“Our country was protected because you worked with our allies to fight against Al Qaeda, destroy its training camps, disperse or eliminate its leaders and weaken its core. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if you hadn’t performed this vital task.
“You’ve kept Al Qaeda off our door for 20 years, and it makes us all safer.”
British troops board a plane leaving Kabul in a photo released by the Ministry of Defence
And he also emphasized the impact on the Afghan people, whether it be education for girls, clearing landmines or many homes that have electricity for the first time.
“I don’t believe any of these gains can be undone anytime soon,” the prime minister said.
“Education, once given, can never be taken away, and this advancement would never have happened without your effort and sacrifice.
“Whether you’re still in service or a veteran, a loved one, a relationship or a friend, you’ve all played your part and you should feel immense pride.”