Op PITTING, Afghanistan

Sat, 08/28/2021 - Mon, 08/30/2021

In April 2021, the NATO Allies and their Operation RESOLUTE SUPPORT partners made the political decision to begin the orderly withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan from 01 May 2021, with the United Kingdom government planning to complete a coordinated and deliberate drawdown of all UK troops within months.

Despite the terms of the ‘Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan’, signed by the Taliban in Doha on 29 February 2020, expectations of an orderly transition to inclusive government disappeared as the Taliban began a rapid advance across the country and eventual entry into Kabul. This resulted in a rapidly deteriorating security situation and meant that the safety of British citizens in Afghanistan could no longer be assured. The UK government launched an evacuation operation, Operation PITTING, on Friday 13 August 2021 against the existing peace agreement deadline of 31 August already in place for foreign troops to leave the country. Eventually, the last UK Forces departed Afghanistan from the international airport in Kabul on 28 August.

The UK airlifted around 5,000 British nationals and their families, alongside more than 8,000 Afghan former UK employed staff and their families, as well as many others considered to be at risk from the Taliban. The Royal Air Force recorded its highest number of passengers on one flight when 436 people were airlifted on a RAF Globemaster (C-17) out of Kabul.

The USA’s final C-17 flight took off on 30 August 2021 at 2359 hrs (local time Kabul) carrying the last military personnel to depart Afghanistan. The last American soldier to board the aircraft was Major General Chris Donahue, commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, thus ending the USA’s military evacuation mission, Operation ALLIES REFUGE, and the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

The Royal Irish Regiment’s involvement in Afghanistan began in 2006 and came to a close with Op PITTING as Majors Whitley and McGroarty, deployed to Kabul with HQ 16 Air Assault Brigade on Operation PITTING, and the British Embassy’s Defence Attaché, Colonel Walker (late R IRISH), were amongst the last to leave.