by Tim Korso
This would not be the first time the UK military has incorporated foreign nationals into its ranks, with Nepali Gurkhas being one of the most known examples of such mergers.
UK lawmakers have suggested that the remaining members of the Afghan special forces could join the ranks of the British Army – possibly as a separate national regiment. The commandos, some of the few in the Afghan military who put up a fight against the Taliban*, were evacuated by the UK after the country and its capital Kabul were taken over by the insurgent group.
The idea of incorporating remnants of the Afghan special forces into the British military was namely floated by Tom Tugendhat, Tory chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, who used to serve in Afghanistan himself. The member of Parliament said he would gladly welcome Afghan commandos in the British Military.
“They’ve proved their loyalty a thousand times. If they want to serve, we should welcome them, I would love to see a regiment of Afghan scouts”, Tugendhat said.
Another British lawmaker, Tory chairman of the Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, backed the idea, noting that since the UK had trained the Afghan servicemen, it should also consider their possible future. Ellwood namely suggested incorporating the Afghans as a separate nationality-based unit, similar to the Gurkhas – members of the British military of Nepalese origin who have been a part of the UK’s military for over 200 years and participated in several major military conflicts, including the two World Wars.
“The other avenue is they are blended into our own system”, Ellwood went on to add.
The Ministry of Defence is currently “assessing how to best support and utilise skills” of the evacuated Afghan special forces. According to a Daily Telegraph report, the same goes for Afghan graduates of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst who trained to join the Afghan military, but who currently have no army to serve. According to The Telegraph, they might join the British Armed Forces instead.
UK’s Withdrawal From Afghanistan
The UK finished the evacuation of its nationals, eligible Afghans, and its military forces on 29 August, just two days shy of the deadline set by the Taliban. Their withdrawal came in light of the US decision to cease military operations in Afghanistan in line with a peace accord negotiated with the Taliban in 2020. The withdrawal process of NATO countries was beset by chaos, as thousands of Afghans flocked to Kabul Airport in hopes of leaving the country. The chaotic withdrawal took an additional hit after a local offshoot of Daesh* carried out a suicide bomber attack at the airport, killing over 200 people, including 13 US servicemen.
The UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was criticised by many current and former British politicians, as well as sparked concerns over possible threats to the UK’s national security. London earlier stated that it would not recognise the Taliban “government” at the moment, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson promising to “engage with the Taliban not on the basis of what they say but what they do”.