Czechs are withdrawing from Afghanistan, taking away valuable experience and painful losses
US President Joe Biden officially announced in a TV speech yesterday that US troops will definitely leave Afghanistan after 20 years. This will happen no later than September 11 this year. Shortly after Biden's above-mentioned statement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: "We went to Afghanistan together, adjusted our positions together and we are united on our departure." After many years, the mission in Afghanistan seems to be over.
Picture: Along with the USA, other member countries of the Alliance, including the Czech Republic, will begin to withdraw their troops. (illustration photo) | Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic
The withdrawal of US troops from the country will begin on May 1, ie in two weeks. Along with the USA, other member countries of the Alliance, including the Czech Republic, will also begin to withdraw their troops. As part of our operations in the country, only the protection force of the embassy, KAMBA, which consists mainly of members of the Military Police, would probably remain in Afghanistan.
"We have always said that we will not take any steps on our own and we must resolve the issue of the Afghan mission collectively. We respect the agreement and we are ready to withdraw Czech soldiers as well," Defense Minister Lubomír Metnar said on Twitter. "We will coordinate our further assistance to Afghanistan with the Allies and we remain ready to fight terrorism together," he concluded.
It will certainly be a demanding logistics operation. Today, Czech soldiers work mainly at the base in Kabul and at the mission headquarters, ie in command and support positions. The approved mandate is currently up to 205 soldiers. The earlier deployment of Czech soldiers at a number of other bases in Afghanistan has long been completed, and the guard company was withdrawn from the Bagram base.
Although the current deployment of our troops is, as already mentioned, practically non-combatant, it should be remembered that for the entire duration of the mission, which started on October 7, 2001 under the name Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), a total of fourteen Czech soldiers lost their lives. The first was in 2007 staff sergeant Nikolaj Martynov, the last was in 2018 staff sergeant Tomáš Procházka, dog handler. The most tragic day of the mission for the Army of the Czech Republic was July 8, 2014, when Sergeant David Beneš, Sergeant Ivo Klusák, Corporal Libor Ligač and Corporal Jan Šenkýř died in an attack by a suicide bomber in the province of Parván, and First Sergeant Jaroslav Lieskovan died six days later after being transferred to the Central Military Hospital in Prague. Honor their memory.
According to US President Joe Biden, the deadline for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is 9/11. This means that it will be an almost twenty-year mission that has claimed thousands of casualties on both sides of the conflict. The US Army lost almost 2,400 soldiers there, the United Kingdom lost almost 460 soldiers. Slovakia lost four soldiers during the Afghan mission.
Afghanistan will also become, to a large extent, a hard lesson for future generations. A country in which the enemy was practically never completely defeated and the fact that a number of the Allied successes during the mission were often very soon offset by the number of casualties among Allied soldiers and civilians, should be a clear message for the future.
What will be the future of this country is uncertain. What is certain, however, is the huge bill that Allied troops have had to pay in 20 years, but troops in Afghanistan have also gained invaluable (not only) combat experience. Several thousand soldiers of the Army of the Czech Republic alone turned there. Despite the painful losses, the Afghan mission thus became a benefit in terms of experience, skills, the use of new technology and overall alliance cooperation.