Some 140 soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles (1RGR) are in Kosovo, supporting just over 800 Afghans formerly employed by NATO and their families. These NATO Affiliated Afghans (NAAs) are being housed in temporary accommodation while they undergo vetting and processing before being resettled in NATO countries.
The 1RGR troops are working alongside other NATO troops and British Embassy staff to provide security and assist in the handling of some 150 NAAs heading to the UK.
Known as Operation Allied Solace, the 60-day mission continues the involvement of 16 Air Assault Brigade, the British Army’s Global Response Force, in the resettlement of entitled people from Afghanistan. Troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade and 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment formed the backbone of the force deployed to Kabul on Operation Pitting, which evacuated over 15,000 British nationals and vulnerable Afghans following the Taliban takeover.
Folkestone-based 1RGR was retasked from other activity in the region to support the NATO efforts in Kosovo.
Lieutenant Colonel Edd Oldfield, 1RGR’s Commanding Officer, said: “Being part of the UK’s Global Response Force means being ready for operations of any kind anywhere in the world. Operation Allied Solace has required us to integrate with our allies as part of NATO’s Response Force in order to provide a safe and secure environment for some of NATO’s Affiliated Afghans. Our soldiers and officers have had to show tremendous agility, focus and compassion, a set of qualities the Gurkhas of 16 Air Assault Brigade are uniquely qualified to deliver.”
In addition to relocating NATO contractors, the Government has been clear that the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) remains open. We continue to work with international partners on securing safe passage to the UK through third countries.