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Evacuated Afghan troops ‘could serve alongside British in Gurkha-style regiment’

Afghan special forces and other troops evacuated to the UK could be absorbed into Britain’s Armed Forces, possibly with the creation of a new regiment based on the Gurkha model, according to suggestions put forward to ministers.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Monday it was “assessing” how best to support and use the skills of thousands of Afghan nationals who have been airlifted out of Afghanistan by the Royal Air Force, including those who worked alongside the Armed Forces.

One former interpreter for the British military, who was flown out of the country at the end of July, told Sky News that he would like the chance to become a British soldier and even perhaps return to his country one day to fight alongside British troops.

The possibility of a new regiment for Afghan special forces was first reported by The Daily Telegraph.

It described how elite Afghan troops played the vital role during the UK’s evacuation effort from Kabul of moving into the crowds of Afghans outside the airport – risking capture at Taliban checkpoints – to identify eligible families awaiting extraction and move them to safety.

Sky News reported on Sunday the plight of the last former interpreter who was guided towards the airport overnight on Friday with his family, including his three-month-old daughter.

S had spent three years working as an interpreter for British forces in the south of the country, only stopping after the vehicle he had been travelling in was hit by a roadside bomb. Even though this had been in 2011, he said he was still being hunted by the Taliban, who view anyone who worked with British troops as a traitor.
Image: S, an Afghan interpreter for the British Army, was the last to be airlifted to safety from Kabul

The Brigade of Gurkhas comprises more than 4,000 Nepalese soldiers. The British Army first started recruiting Gurkhas about 200 years ago.

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Senior Tory MPs support the idea of a similar drive to absorb Afghan soldiers into the Armed Forces. Many of them have been trained by British troops.

UK special forces in particular spent the past two decades training and operating alongside elite Afghan units such as Commando Force 333.

The Brigade of Gurkhas comprises more than 4,000 Nepalese soldiers
Image: The Brigade of Gurkhas comprises more than 4,000 Nepalese soldiers

Tom Tugendhat, chair of the foreign affairs committee, told the Telegraph: “We trained and fought alongside many Afghans who are in the UK.

“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.”

An MoD spokesperson said: “Thousands of Afghan nationals, including those who worked alongside our Armed Forces, are being welcomed into the UK and we are currently assessing how to best support them and utilise their skills and expertise going forward.”

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