UK has formally withdrawn from Afghanistan, ending the 13 year war that it was a part of. The lowering of the Union Flag in Camp Bastion marked the end of Britain’s campaign, which is believed to be its longest involvement in a conflict in modern times.
13 year British campaign in Afghanistan
Initially, the goal of the British forces was to curb the trade in illegal opium/poppy. However, that mission proved unsuccessful and the forces changed focus. At one point of time, the British had 9,500 British military personnel active in Afghanistan. A total of 453 British lives were lost in Afghanistan with thousands more who were injured.
Status of forces
UK’s role in direct combat in Afghanistan has officially ended, however, it will still maintain a presence there. A few hundred British troops are expected to be deployed at the Qargha Officer Training Academy outside Kabul to train the Afghan national forces. UK will continue to play a major role in training and advising Afghan forces. UK’s Special Forces operations are also expected to continue in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future.
Camp Bastion formed the epicenter of UK’s operations in Afghanistan, even though it controlled another 136 small bases in the Helmand province of southern Afghanistan. The British had also built a 11,500 ft runway at Camp Bastion making it easy for the larger transport planes to fly in. The scale of operations there had increased to such an extent that Bastion became the third busiest British airport after Heathrow and Gatwick.
Operation Herrick is the codename that was given to all British operations in Afghanistan since it committed forces in 2002. It comprises of UK’s role in the NATO led ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) and USA’s Operation Enduring Freedom.