As Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key was in overall command of Operation Pitting, the mission to evacuate British people, entitled Afghans and civilians from partner nations as the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
On Tuesday 12 October, VAdm Key visited Merville Barracks in Colchester to meet some of the soldiers who deployed to Kabul and thank them for their efforts.
“I was hugely impressed by the speed at which you responded when the call went out; the combination of courage and compassion with which you acted; and your ability to evacuate people in such large numbers so quickly." Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key, Chief of Joint Operations
Some 750 troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, the British Army’s global response force, provided security and logistic support to the evacuation with most of the soldiers coming back from their summer leave at short notice to deploy.
Working alongside the Joint Force Headquarters and in partnership with the Royal Air Force, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office and UK Border Force, more than 15,000 people were flown out. While in Kabul, the troops distributed 250,000 litres of bottled water, 25,000 bottles of baby formula and 9,000 nappies to the crowds of people waiting to be evacuated.
VAdm Key said: “I was grateful for the professional way in which 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team delivered on Operation Pitting. It was a tough and complex operation to accomplish yet those who deployed, supported by those back home, should be proud of the part they played in the biggest and fastest emergency evacuation in recent history.
"Operation Pitting was a remarkable achievement and what you did represented the very best of what Defence is about.”