A year ago, the Spanish Armed Forces played an exemplary role in the operation to rescue people from Afghanistan – the most important rescue mission ever carried out by our country – acknowledged by the national and international media and receiving various awards and recognitions from public and private institutions.
More than 2,200 Afghan collaborators and their families managed to reach our country from the turmoil in Kabul Airport over ten intense days at the end of August 2021, within the framework of an operation that was planned, deployed and executed in record time.
The crews of Ala 31 and personnel from the Air Deployment Support Squadron (Spanish acronym: EADA) of the Air and Space Force, the Special Operations Command (Spanish acronym: MOE), the Air Evacuation Medical Unit (Spanish acronym: UMAER) and the Civilian-Military Cooperation Battalion (Spanish acronym: CIMIC) of the Army’s ROI 1 took part on the mission, all under the instructions of the Operation Command (Spanish acronym: MOPS).
A total of 17 rotations of three Airbus A400 planes (Dubai-Kabul-Dubai), 10 Air Europa flights (Dubai-Torrejón) and the first A400 flight (Dubai-Torrejón) were made as from 19 August to help the maximum number of Afghan citizens out from Kabul Airport as the Taliban advance progressed.
In addition, at Torrejón Air Base, the Spanish Air and Space Force and the Emergency Military Unit (Spanish acronym: UME) set up a Provisional Transit Installation in just a few days to house the Afghan families evacuated upon their arrival in Spain.
Most of the more than 2,200 Afghans rescued were former collaborators (1,671) of the Spanish troops during the more than 20 years that the deployment to the country lasted, but the rescue mission also managed to get collaborators of the European Union, the United States, Portugal and NATO out of the country.
Subsequently, in October, a new evacuation operation was carried out through the deployment of two planes – one civilian and another military – which left Pakistan with 244 Afghan collaborators on-board that were unable to leave the country in the first phase in August. On 21 July, another military aircraft arrived with 63 Afghan citizens that took off from Islamabad – the capital of Pakistan – and landed at Torrejón Air Base, where they were received by the Minister for Defense, Margarita Robles.
The arrival of this flight on Wednesday with some 300 people on-board is the largest evacuation operation since last summer. To undertake this latest evacuation, the Operation Command (MOPS) deployed military teams to Pakistan, which served to coordinate and facilitate the diplomatic action of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.