An RAF CH47 Chinook waits while members of A Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers embark aboard via the helicopter’s rear loading ramp. To the right is K Company of 42 Commando, Royal Marines newly arrived at the forward area of Now Zad, Afghanistan during Operation Silica. (2006)

The UK Armed Forces’ twenty years in Afghanistan

More than 150,000 UK Armed Forces personnel have served in Afghanistan since 2001, now our mission there is drawing to a close

Operation HERRICK

The Taliban gave safe haven to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan which allowed the terrorists to plan and carry out attacks around the world. The UK joined many other nations in a NATO-led military intervention, supported by a UN Security Council Resolution to prevent the country once again becoming a haven for international terrorists.

9/11 Attacks (September 2001)

Photo by Aidan Bartos on Unsplash
A Chinook helicopter passes over a Harrier aircraft of 4 Squadron, Royal Air Force in its hangar at Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan. (2008)
A Chinook helicopter passes over a Harrier aircraft of 4 Squadron, Royal Air Force in its hangar at Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan. (2008)

The International Security Assistance Force (2002)

In 2001, NATO created the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which was backed by the United Nations. The force’s initial role was to secure Kabul, the Afghan capital.

Camp Bastion (2006)

2006 was a key year for the UK in Afghanistan and was the year they moved into the Helmand province in the south, one of Afghanistan’s most volatile regions.

Mike Company of 42 Commando Royal Marines pictured conducting a room clearance — a deliberate action against Taliban insurgents — in the town of Barikju, Northern Helmand, Afghanistan. (2007)
Mike Company of 42 Commando Royal Marines pictured clearing compounds in deliberate operations against Taliban insurgents in the town of Barikju, Northern Helmand, Afghanistan. (2007)
From Royal Marines conducting deliberate fighting patrols and establishing Patrol Bases in Helmand to the Royal Air Force flying combat sorties in support of ground operations, all three services worked together to pave the way for peace in Afghanistan.
A Corporal interacts with Afghan children in Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province while his patrol clears compounds in an operation to disrupt Taliban fighting positions.

Ending combat operations

In 2010 the largest joint offensive of the conflict involved 15,000 British, American and Afghan troops to push the Taliban from their strongholds in central Helmand.

‘Britain has played a huge and honourable role in trying to do everything we can to give Afghanistan the chance of stability and security, and to make sure that it never again is a haven for terror. I know that the real long-term answer for Afghanistan is not simply security and stability and peace with its neighbours, but the real answer for Afghanistan is prosperity and growth and jobs and investment and wealth. That is absolutely key to the future of the country.’

— Prime Minister David Cameron, March 2013

British forces arrive at Kandahar airfield after departing Camp Bastion for the last time in 2014 after it was handed over to the Afghan National Army.

Operation TORAL — A renewed mission to support Afghanistan

After combat operations ended in 2014, British and NATO forces continued to commit a significant amount of resource to continue building a safer and more secure Afghanistan.

The Kabul Security Force

Stationed in various locations across Kabul, the British Army have led the 7-nation-strong Kabul Security Force (KSF). The KSF provided protection and secure transportation for coalition mentors and advisors as they advise the Afghan government in the capital. These soldiers were nicknamed by the mentors as ‘guardian angels’.

Private McGregor, A Company, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland stands in front of a Foxhound vehicle which is used as part of the QRF (Quick Reaction Force) for the Kabul Security Force (KSF).
Private Innes (Left), Private McGregor (right), A Company, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland stands in front of a Foxhound vehicle which is used as part of the QRF (Quick Reaction Force) for the Kabul Security Force (KSF).

The Toral Aviation Detachment (TAD)

The RAF’s Puma helicopters and their crews deployed in Kabul provided helicopter support to the NATO forces.

A Royal Air Force Puma flies over the countryside of Afghanistan on its way to HKIA (Hamid Karzai International Airport) from Bagram Airfield (BAF) as part of their role of transporting people between bases by air whilst on Operation TORAL.
The Royal Air Force Puma detachment flies over Kabul while transporting British and personnel between bases on Operation TORAL.

Afghan National Army Officers’ Academy (ANAOA)

In partnership with the Afghan National Army the UK Armed Forces pioneered a new officer academy in Kabul. Modelled on the British Army’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst they devised a training course for the Afghans.

British soldiers supporting the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA).

To see the full timeline of the UK Armed Forces’ time in Afghanistan click the link below:

Find out where else the UK Armed Forces are deployed here👇

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