New medal for Afghan evacuation heroes: Forces who helped airlift 15,000 people when Kabul fell to the Taliban – while civil servants holidayed and dithered – get new gong
- More than 15,000 people were evacuated by personnel from across the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force, during the evacuation of Kabul
- Personnel will receive the existing Operational Service Medal Afghanistan
- But the medal will feature a new clasp that reads ‘Operation Pitting’
Armed Forces personnel who took part in the evacuation of more than 15,000 people from Afghanistan in August 2021 are set to receive a new medal recognising their efforts, the Ministry of Defence has announced.
Personnel will receive the existing Operational Service Medal Afghanistan, featuring a new clasp reading ‘Operation Pitting’, recognising their contribution to the evacuation of Afghan and British nationals.
More than 15,000 people were evacuated by personnel from across the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force, during the effort.
Personnel will receive the existing Operational Service Medal Afghanistan, featuring a new clasp reading ‘Operation Pitting’
Pictured: A full flight of 265 people supported by members of the UK Armed Forces on board an evacuation flight out of Kabul airport, Afghanistan in August 2021
More than 15,000 people were evacuated by personnel from across the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force, during the effort
Approximately 600 soldiers were deployed to Kabul airport, providing food, water, and medical assistance to evacuees after the Taliban took control of the country.
Evacuees were flown out of Kabul by the Royal Air Force in what Defence Secretary Ben Wallace described as ‘the largest British evacuation since the Second World War’.
One flight set a new record for the highest number of people carried in an RAF C-17 aircraft, at 439.
The Prime Minister said: ‘I’m delighted that Her Majesty The Queen has given permission for a special medal to be awarded to all those who deployed to Kabul, to honour their heroism in the face of extreme adversity.
‘Operation Pitting will go down as one of the great achievements of our UK Armed Services and their civilian counterparts in the post-war era.
‘The whole country can be immensely proud of their tireless work to bring men, women and children to safety. They represent the very best of us.’
Pictured: Some of the UK Armed Forces who took part in the evacuation of entitled personnel from Kabul airport in Afghanistan
Mr Wallace hailed the Armed Forces’ ‘true heroism, bravery and dedication’, adding: ‘As the security situation worsened by the hour, our service men and women stepped up and delivered the largest British evacuation since the Second World War. They will rightly receive medallic recognition for their efforts.
‘Following approval from Her Majesty The Queen, they will now receive the medallic recognition their efforts deserve.’
Shadow defence secretary John Healey praised the decision, saying: ‘Troops involved in the Kabul airlift totally deserve a medal, and Labour have argued this since early September.
‘The military medal is a fitting recognition of their bravery and professionalism, as well as expressing the pride and respect the nation feels in their service.’
Pictured: Members of the UK Armed Forces taking part in the evacuation of entitled personnel from Kabul airport in Afghanistan
However, not everyone involved in the evacuation effort will be receiving accolades.
In December, the Foreign Office’s top mandarin told shocked MPs he stayed on holiday for 11 days after the dramatic fall of Kabul – and admitted there are ‘lessons to be learned’ from the Afghanistan disaster.
During a committee hearing, Sir Philip Barton revealed that he was on leave from August 9 and did not return until August 26, nearly two weeks after the government collapsed and handed the Taliban control.
Sir Philip, senior colleagues then-Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab all came under fire in damning testimony from a junior civil servant who claimed that at times they had been the only person dealing with thousands of emails from those desperate to flee the Taliban.
Raphael Marshall said soldiers had to be drafted in for desk work in the Foreign Office when officials stayed at home and refused to do overtime.
In a dossier handed to the Foreign Affairs Committee, he accused Mr Raab – who was also on holiday at a luxury resort in Crete when the crisis erupted, but came back more quickly – of undermining the rescue efforts by delaying decisions.
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