Voices are growing in the UK to accommodate Afghan Special Forces personnel into the British Army, The Daily Telegraph revealed.
According to the London-based outlet, a former head of the army, former ministers, and Tory select committee chairmen are among the voices pushing for the inclusion of the Afghan soldiers. The ministers’ proposal calls for the creation of a new regiment of Afghans, a proposal the UK government is expected to soon study.
Out of the estimated 10,000 Afghan refugees who have flown to the UK this year, hundreds are believed to be the specialist soldiers who trained and served alongside the British servicemen in Afghanistan, The Daily Telegraph wrote.
Sandhurst-Enrolled Afghan Cadets to Join British Army
Meanwhile, the British government has decided to allow Afghan cadets enrolled at the Sandhurst Military Academy to join the British army, subject to their passing the course. The outlet added that three Afghan cadets are joining four others at the Royal Military Academy next weekend. The cadets were originally meant to serve their national military.
Britain pressed in 1,000 soldiers under Operation Pitting to evacuate around 15,000 people on more than 100 flights from the troubled country in the largest British evacuation since the Second World War.
Role in Evacuation
The evacuees involved 5,000 British nationals and their families and the rest were Afghans who helped the British over the last two decades as interpreters or in other roles. The approximately 8,000 Afghan evacuees also included common Afghans, including 2,200 children at risk of persecution under the Taliban regime.
The Daily Telegraph revealed that the Afghan Special Forces personnel were sent undercover outside of the Kabul airport to identify people “eligible” for resettlement in the UK.
“They helped find and collect Afghan translators and their families, risking their lives by venturing into Taliban-controlled areas, and brought the refugees to the front of the queue where they were handed over to British paratroopers,” the outlet wrote.
Could Be Deployed Back in Afghanistan
Citing defense sources, the outlet wrote that all the Afghan Special Forces personnel who assisted in Operation Pitting were brought to the UK on the last flight, without revealing the exact figure.
The outlet quoted Gen. Sir Richard Barrons, former head of Joint Forces Command, who said that the elite Afghan soldiers could be deployed back to Afghanistan to take on the Islamic State.
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the defense select committee, said: “Given that we’ve helped train these forces, it’s certainly something that needs to be a consideration. One avenue is they are kept as a unit, as the Gurkhas have operated. The other avenue is they are blended into our own system.”
Around 4,000 Gurkha soldiers, hailing from Nepal, serve in the British Army. The Gurkhas have been serving in the British Army for the last 200 years and have been deployed to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Borneo, Cyprus, the Falklands, Kosovo, and most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.