The Australian Defence Force will be deploying more than 250 personnel to support urgent Australian Government efforts to evacuate Australian citizens and visa holders from Afghanistan. A KC-30A departed Amberley today (16 August 2021) for Australia’s main operating base in the Middle East and will commence refuelling operations in support of the wider US-led operation later this week. Two C-17A Globemasters will also depart for the Middle East later this week.
The situation in Afghanistan remains highly volatile and dangerous. Defence is taking all necessary precautions to protect its people and those authorised for evacuation. The mission will be constantly assessed against the latest developments. Australia’s evacuation efforts are being closely coordinated with international partners.
The defence chief who led Australia into a war in Afghanistan says the country was far too slow to evacuate those who helped Australian troops, and he fears for their lives. Retired Admiral Chris Barrie, who led the ADF when it entered Afghanistan in 2001, has criticised the government for failing to evacuate local interpreters and contractors who supported Australian defence personnel in Afghanistan, the ABC reported.
He said Afghans who have been left behind will bear the brunt of Taliban reprisals. “There will be reprisals, there will be paybacks, there will be all sorts of brutalities that, I guess, will dribble out over the next period of time,” Admiral Barrie said.
Admiral Barrie said Australian forces had been forecasting the need to evacuate people since it began its withdrawals in April. “I have read a litany of reasons why this was going to take weeks, months and years and people were having to be processed — now we find the very ugly truth that we’ve just left it far too late,” he told the ABC’s Sally Sara on The World Today.