the soldiers leave the country

Publication: Thursday, May 13, 2021 11:39

This is the moment when the Spanish flag stopped flying in Kabul in an act of tribute paid by NATO to the Spanish troops, thus ending, after 19 years, the longest mission with the withdrawal of their last 24 soldiers, who will be received this Thursday by the king in Madrid.

The Commander of the United States Army and the International Coalition in Afghanistan, General Austin “Scott” Miller, and Vice-Admiral Chief of the General Staff of the Operations Command participated in the flag lowering ceremony held at Hamid Karzai Airport. Spaniard, Ignacio de la Puente Mora-Fogueroa, and General of the Joint Special Operations Command, Ángel Ramón Herrezuelo.

With him, the longest mission of the Spanish army came to an end, 19 years during which, as the Defense expressed it on its Twitter account, “they worked for the peace and security of all”.

The last 24 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, accompanied by two local interpreters, will be received by King Felipe VI at the Torrejón de Ardoz air base (Madrid).

The King, accompanied by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Defense Minister Margarita Robles, is expected to receive them at seven in the afternoon and also pay homage to the dead, in an act that closes a mission in the that about 27,000 Spanish soldiers participated and a hundred of them died.

The germ of the mission dates back to the attacks of September 11, 2001, after which the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan to fight Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, to which was added the International Assistance Force. by the UN.

Spain’s participation was approved at the Council of Ministers on December 27, 2001, with a maximum of 485 military personnel and for a period of three months, but it has been extended until today.

In January 2002 the first 350 Spaniards arrived in Kabul, in August 2003 NATO took command of ISAF and two years later Spain took over the base in the city of Herat in the west of the country, and the provincial reconstruction team nearby. Qala-i-Naw, where he established a base. Spain’s largest contribution to ISAF came in 2010, after Congress approved a maximum deployment of 1,549 troops.

In 2011, NATO began handing over the security of the country to Afghan forces. ISAF ended on December 31, 2015 and a day later a new Atlantic Alliance mission, Resolute Support, was created, focused on training and advising Afghan forces.

The bulk of Spain’s troops left the country in the last week of October 2015 and 95 troops remained, reducing their number to 24 during the pandemic.

During the 19 years of mission, 100 soldiers (including two civil guards), 2 national police officers and 2 interpreters who worked for the Spanish troops died in the Asian country.

That of Afghanistan is therefore the operation that cost the Spanish armed forces the most lives, out of some 180 soldiers killed in international operations, followed by that of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with 23 dead.

Among them are the 62 dead in the largest incident in the history of the armed forces, that of the Yakovlev-42 plane, which crashed in Turkey with them on their return from Afghanistan.

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