UK steps up support to help British nationals leave Afghanistan

Still doesn’t alter the fact that we’ve been hung out to dry again. It must have felt like Cairo ‘41 for the minions having to deal with a situation not of their making, but that’s MSM for you, foot straight in mouth without thinking.
 

Hairy-boab

Old-Salt
The entire event was a humiliating shit-show and trying to pretend otherwise doesn't do anybody any favours.

On point 1 I would argue that the failure to secure the runway during a takeoff - leading to scenes of people falling to their deaths over Kabul - was humiliation enough.

On 2 we have left behind God knows how many HUMINT assets and the embassy left CVs and local staff contact details lying around the office to be found by the Taliban, when it should have been disposed of as part of a STRAP destruction plan.

On points 4 & 5 we could only evacuate a fraction of what we should have done due to time and capacity constraints that were at least partially self-imposed and were known about months in advance.

I don't say this to denigrate the people working incredibly hard in impossible conditions during the withdrawal, but it does irritate me to see a situation that should never have happened in the first place get described as "90% of the job well done".

A job well done wouldn't have involved a chaotic, last minute evacuation in the first place.
Fair enough.
 
The entire event was a humiliating shit-show and trying to pretend otherwise doesn't do anybody any favours.

On point 1 I would argue that the failure to secure the runway during a takeoff - leading to scenes of people falling to their deaths over Kabul - was humiliation enough.

On 2 we have left behind God knows how many HUMINT assets and the embassy left CVs and local staff contact details lying around the office to be found by the Taliban, when it should have been disposed of as part of a STRAP destruction plan.

On points 4 & 5 we could only evacuate a fraction of what we should have done due to time and capacity constraints that were at least partially self-imposed and were known about months in advance.

I don't say this to denigrate the people working incredibly hard in impossible conditions during the withdrawal, but it does irritate me to see a situation that should never have happened in the first place get described as "90% of the job well done".

A job well done wouldn't have involved a chaotic, last minute evacuation in the first place.
Hmm, I read the post very differently. To me, "the job" meant the last-minute evacuation - that was done very well and most of the (limited) objectvies were reached. I'm in awe of the people on the ground who made it happen.

Absolutely agree, however, that the medium to long-term planning was lacking. Exactly how much notice did we get from the US that all this was going to happen? Not very much as I recall.
 

GDog

Old-Salt
Hmm, I read the post very differently. To me, "the job" meant the last-minute evacuation - that was done very well and most of the (limited) objectvies were reached. I'm in awe of the people on the ground who made it happen.

Absolutely agree, however, that the medium to long-term planning was lacking. Exactly how much notice did we get from the US that all this was going to happen? Not very much as I recall.
A cursory glance at Wikipedia states that the UK launched Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy in Dec 2020 and ARAP started to offer assistance four months later.

I would presume that most informed commentators knew that the Taliban would eventually prevail by Dec 2020, the only thing disputed was how long it would take.

But in the spirit of getting things done promptly as soon as you realise that a significant problem is on the horizon, the UK and allies drifted along until mid summer at which point Op Pitting became a necessity.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
This is an interesting story, which to my mind highlights the impossible task faced by government in today's media world.

I suppose that those planning/managing the evacuation had a list of priorities, which I speculate were something like:

1- Avoid scenes of total national humiliation, e.g. overrunning of the embassy, diplomatic staff dragged through the streets etc.

2- Avoid major loss of intelligence materials/assets to the Taliban/other foreign powers.

3- Avoid casualties to British troops.

4-Rescue as many British/allied nation citizens associated with diplomatic/military missions.

5- Pick up UK nationals who were floating around for weddings, charities etc.

6- Other (to include various charitable cases, foreign nationals etc).

Now, it looks to me that parts 1-5 were achieved pretty bloody remarkably. What might we say, about 90 % of the job well done?

However, what we see is well-meaning bien pensant 'whistle blowers' and media types absolutely slaying the government on #6. It also says a lot that somebody who got into the FCO after studying history immediately after graduating in 2018 would sacrifice their career like this. I tried (and failed) to get on the CS fast stream with significant relevant working experience. I wanted to do it to serve my country, not for five minutes of fame.

People need to get some ******* perspective IMV. And we need to stop appointing people to important jobs because they went to Oxford. That place is clearly no longer a source of reliable people for HMG.

I'd disagree with your conclusions.

1. Although we avoided casualities and issues you specifically mention, the last minute rush, having known about the US withdrawal which had been agreed under the Trump Adminsistration, was humilaiting. UKG had plenty of prior warning that Afghanisatn was going to be abandoned, and would ahve been no matter who won the US Presidential election. THE FCDO was completely unprepared, and did little to nothing to start bringing Afghan Allies back to the UK or getting them to safe outside countries. It was a mad chaotic rush. The troops on the ground did a remarkable job considering the circumstances, they and their European Allies went above and beyond in trying to get people to the airport.

2. Huge swathes of materiel was lost to the Taliban, (as regard to intelligence and information on Afghan assest [human] British reporters discovered large amounts of documentation that hadn't been destroyed and left lying around the abandoned embassy)

3. We were fairly lucky on this front, it could ahve been a lot worse, there were no clashes with the Taliban, we did get hit by Al-Queda affiliates when the gates got bombed. Could have been a lot worse.

4. In the time allocated there we did remarkably well, but thousands more could have been rescued had proper planning been done and they process started the year before after the conclusion of the Trump-Taliban Peace Deal.

5. We got most of them, but not all there are still people trapped and the Afghan Resettlement Scheme is still not ready 3 months ahead. I have friends working on extracting Afghan-UK Nationals, ex-police, musicians, journalists etc, and the FCDO has been nothing but outright intransigent. Bureaucratic stonewalling that would have given Roman Engineers under Hadrian an inferiority complex

6. See above.

As for your Oxford Comment I know a fair few folks in the FCDO who never been close to Oxford, even on a train, (most of those I know are Edinburgh Gradutes, but there are plenty of others from Russell Group and Red Brick Universities too).

Now do I think that FCDO staff are entirely to blame? No, but a lot of blame can be placed on the FCDO. The almagamation of the FCO & DFID was perhaps too soon, especially as there was forewrning of the US withdrawal, over focus on internal departrmental reform was prioritised over the FCDO doing its job, and that comes from the political leadership.

Again there were huge amounts of warning that Afganistan was going to be ditched, first the Trump Admin negotiated a peace deal with the Taliban, talks in which the Admistration deliberately cut out NATO allies. The same last minute scramble would have happen under a 2nd Trump Admin as it did under the Biden Admin, the only difference I can see that might have occured was less US involvement at the airport.

Government Departments take their direction from those at the top, the Ministers, it was quite clear from Raab's shennaigans at the time, being on holiday, and then his approach in the aftermath that he firstly, was paid no attention to prior events and warnings, second, when he did finally appear, he was completely and utterly out of his depth, if the WB's account is true then he displayed then classic traits of a man promoted far beyond his capabilities who fell back on mediore middle management process.

Ministers were un prepared, which meant that their department was unprepared, and are still failing now, months after the events.

The only Minister involved that has come out with any sort of credibility from this debacle was Ben Wallace, who ssaw what was happening and tried and tried to rally a joint European Force to stay behind after the US had buggered off, at each stage he was blocked by Raab's indifference and incompetence.
 

Hairy-boab

Old-Salt
I'd disagree with your conclusions.

1. Although we avoided casualities and issues you specifically mention, the last minute rush, having known about the US withdrawal which had been agreed under the Trump Adminsistration, was humilaiting. UKG had plenty of prior warning that Afghanisatn was going to be abandoned, and would ahve been no matter who won the US Presidential election. THE FCDO was completely unprepared, and did little to nothing to start bringing Afghan Allies back to the UK or getting them to safe outside countries. It was a mad chaotic rush. The troops on the ground did a remarkable job considering the circumstances, they and their European Allies went above and beyond in trying to get people to the airport.

2. Huge swathes of materiel was lost to the Taliban, (as regard to intelligence and information on Afghan assest [human] British reporters discovered large amounts of documentation that hadn't been destroyed and left lying around the abandoned embassy)

3. We were fairly lucky on this front, it could ahve been a lot worse, there were no clashes with the Taliban, we did get hit by Al-Queda affiliates when the gates got bombed. Could have been a lot worse.

4. In the time allocated there we did remarkably well, but thousands more could have been rescued had proper planning been done and they process started the year before after the conclusion of the Trump-Taliban Peace Deal.

5. We got most of them, but not all there are still people trapped and the Afghan Resettlement Scheme is still not ready 3 months ahead. I have friends working on extracting Afghan-UK Nationals, ex-police, musicians, journalists etc, and the FCDO has been nothing but outright intransigent. Bureaucratic stonewalling that would have given Roman Engineers under Hadrian an inferiority complex

6. See above.

As for your Oxford Comment I know a fair few folks in the FCDO who never been close to Oxford, even on a train, (most of those I know are Edinburgh Gradutes, but there are plenty of others from Russell Group and Red Brick Universities too).

Now do I think that FCDO staff are entirely to blame? No, but a lot of blame can be placed on the FCDO. The almagamation of the FCO & DFID was perhaps too soon, especially as there was forewrning of the US withdrawal, over focus on internal departrmental reform was prioritised over the FCDO doing its job, and that comes from the political leadership.

Again there were huge amounts of warning that Afganistan was going to be ditched, first the Trump Admin negotiated a peace deal with the Taliban, talks in which the Admistration deliberately cut out NATO allies. The same last minute scramble would have happen under a 2nd Trump Admin as it did under the Biden Admin, the only difference I can see that might have occured was less US involvement at the airport.

Government Departments take their direction from those at the top, the Ministers, it was quite clear from Raab's shennaigans at the time, being on holiday, and then his approach in the aftermath that he firstly, was paid no attention to prior events and warnings, second, when he did finally appear, he was completely and utterly out of his depth, if the WB's account is true then he displayed then classic traits of a man promoted far beyond his capabilities who fell back on mediore middle management process.

Ministers were un prepared, which meant that their department was unprepared, and are still failing now, months after the events.

The only Minister involved that has come out with any sort of credibility from this debacle was Ben Wallace, who ssaw what was happening and tried and tried to rally a joint European Force to stay behind after the US had buggered off, at each stage he was blocked by Raab's indifference and incompetence.
There are obviously a few posters who know more about this than me. I essentially plucked the 90 % figure out of my arrse, so I’d be curious to hear others assessment of the objectives achieved? Better than Benghazi? 30 %? For those who say it was a shit show, what part of the operation are they most proud of?
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
There are obviously a few posters who know more about this than me. I essentially plucked the 90 % figure out of my arrse, so I’d be curious to hear others assessment of the objectives achieved? Better than Benghazi? 30 %? For those who say it was a shit show, what part of the operation are they most proud of?

The Airlift, and the Kabul extractions were brilliantly done, there is little to no criticism that can be laid at the feet of the the service and diplomatic personnel on the ground in Kabul, they did an incredible job in the circumstances, if there are criticisms it would be, failure to secure the airfield properly and not destroying all sensitive information at the Embassy.

All criticism should be directed to those in charge back in the UK, and the buck stops with those at ministerial level.
 
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Dont forget from a British influence on the ground, it was less and less once Helmand and more to the point BSN closed down. Then Souter shut and what remained bolstered what little UK presence there was in HKIA. HKIA was Turk run (sorry, not run but inhabited!) with the US not trusting them as far as they could throw. The more it went on the more splintered it became which was started by the US a long time before. You had RS HQ running the NATO show but you had BAF and USFOR(A) running basically anything outside of Kabul with the US. Anything south of Ghazni was US centric so was US missions not really NATO/RS. This then carried on once the proverbial was hitting the fan blades and dont forget, it was a US - TALIBAN peace deal, nothing to do with ANSF/GOIRA...again US centric.
 
Now do I think that FCDO staff are entirely to blame? No, but a lot of blame can be placed on the FCDO.
Hmmmm. Ok point, but time /timing was the issue wasn’t it? Trump might have done the deal but it was actioned by Biden. Did we know what timetable Trump had agreed?
 

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