UK ends Afghan combat operations
Is afghan and usa war ended
Is afghan and usa war ended |The last UK base in Afghanistan has been handed over to the control of Afghan security forces, ending British combat operations in the country.
The union flag was lowered at Camp Bastion, while Camp Leatherneck – the adjoining US base – was also handed over to Afghan control.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said “mistakes were made” but much had been achieved since troops arrived in 2001.
The number of deaths of British troops throughout the conflict stands at 453.
Camp Bastion, in Helmand Province, has been UK troops’ main Afghan base since 2006.
The last US Marines unit in Afghanistan ended its combat operations with the handover of Camp Leatherneck. The US has lost 2,349 personnel in Afghanistan.
Mr Fallon said: “It is with pride that we announce the end of UK combat operations in Helmand, having given Afghanistan the best possible chance of a stable future,” he said.
“Our armed forces’ tremendous sacrifice laid the foundations for a strong Afghan security force, set the security context that enabled the first democratic transition of power in the country’s history, and stopped it being a launch pad for terrorist attacks in the UK.”
He said UK support would continue through “institutional development”, the Afghan National Army Officer Academy and development aid.
At the time Camp Bastion opened, the government said UK forces would be there to protect reconstruction of the country, but they got caught up in the struggle against the Taliban.
The sprawling base grew to the size of the town of Reading, with a perimeter of 22 miles. Its runway, which at one point became the fifth-busiest UK-operated airstrip, is now expected to handle commercial flights.
Rear Adm Chris Parry, who helped plan the role of UK troops in Afghanistan, told the BBC that Britain’s involvement had been “worth it”, saying the country was now “more stable”, was improving economically and had 40% more children going to school.
“We’ve got rid of al-Qaeda and the bulk of the Taliban from the country,” he said.
“The Afghan security forces are a lot better than most people give them credit for, and most of the people I talk to say that they are well capable of actually holding down most of the major cities and centres of population.”