Helicopter Kabul Skyline

EXCLUSIVE: The British Soldiers Operating In One Of The World's Most Dangerous Cities

Forces News has been given special access to the British troops securing Kabul from the militants. 

Helicopter Kabul Skyline

As the Afghan government makes a new push for peace with the Taliban, Forces News has been given special access to the British troops securing Kabul from the militants. 

In recent months the Taliban and Islamic State have carried out a series of deadly suicide bombings in the Afghan capital. Hundreds of civilians have been killed. 

Now the US Secretary of Defense is making a personal visit to discuss a fresh round of peace talks aimed at bringing an end to the 16-year conflict.  

Framed by the high mountains of the Hindu Kush, Kabul was once a key stop on the silk routes of Asia - a place of gardens, bazaars and grand palaces. 

Today, it is known for being one of the most dangerous cities in the world:

The heavily fortified Kabul International airport is home to troops from five nations, part of what is known as the Kabul Security Force (KSF).

Among them is a company of soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (2 YORKS), here on Operation Toral, as the British Army's Quick Reaction Force.

The Catterick-based battalion is responsible for providing force protection to all NATO allies and mentors support the Afghan government and their security forces.

They were involved in the evacuation of civilians when Taliban gunmen stormed the city's Intercontinental Hotel, killing 43 people. 

Platoon Commander Lt James Field was one of the soldiers who helped get civilians to safety:

"When it first started, we went in and got all the information we could. We let the Afghan forces take the lead.

"When they needed us, we moved forward and extracted civilians to safety."

British Soldiers Conduct Evacuation After Hotel Attack 2 YORKS
2 YORKS ensured 43 civilians were rescued from the 12-hour siege (Image: MoD)

Training Afghan Forces To Take On The Terrorists 

Five years ago Britain helped establish the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA) in the western outskirts of Kabul.

Modelled on Sandhurst, and built with £75m of British money, everything on the curriculum is modelled on UK military training.

So far, around 3,000 officer cadets have passed through the centre, becoming future commanders who will lead the fight against Afghanistan’s insurgents. 

The cadets are drawn from all of the country’s 34 provinces and ethnic groups and are mentored by 64 international advisers, around half of these are British. 

To gain a place at the academy cadets undergo a two-day selection board, with as many as 700 applicants chasing 320 places. 

Afghan Academy Training Soldiers
Cadets work in platoon-sized groups, with field training a large part of the curriculum

Captain Laurence Ainsworth mentors four instructors:

"Having spoken to a few of them, very similar reasons to why we joined the army, if not more magnified.

"They want to defend their county and they want a strong and stable Afghanistan."

Cadets spend a year at the academy but there will be joining an army that has sustained heavy losses.

Afghan Army Stats

While it takes its core principles from the British Army, the realistic aim is for ANAOA to be on par with academies in India and Pakistan.

The long-term plan is for a gradual drawdown of NATO mentors here, with them all gone by 2026.  

It is hoped what they leave behind is a first-class training academy, able to produce the leaders the Afghan army badly needs.