British troops were first deployed to Afghanistan thirteen years ago, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the USA, because that was the country in which the hijackers had trained. It was imperative to remove Al-Qaeda from their strongholds there. Since then, many British and Afghan lives have been lost, and much treasure spent, in trying to make Afghanistan a better place. In the last thirteen years, our objectives of removing the terrorist threat from Afghanistan have met much success, and the Afghan Army has been trained up in order to take control of the country as it moves on into the future. This is a future that we all hope, and have every reason to think, will be more stable, peaceful, and prosperous than its past. Afghanistan, of course, faces new and difficult challenges, but it is better equipped than ever to deal with them.
This good news has come about thanks to the hard work and enormous sacrifices of British forces. As they head for home, our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all those who have been lost, and with everyone else who fought and served with such gallantry, selflessness, and dedication and such demanding circumstances.