24/06/2021 Thursday

Poland withdraws its troops from Afghanistan

Adam Guz/PAP

Poland will not extend its Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Thursday.  

"In accordance with the decisions of the Allies, we have decided not to extend the mission of the Polish Military Contingent in Afghanistan. At the end of June, after 20 years, we are concluding our military involvement in the largest Nato operation in history, Duda wrote on Twitter.

He added that the first Polish soldiers were to return to the country on Thursday night.

"We have proved our allied responsibility and readiness to take responsibility for security also on a global scale," the head of National Security Bureau Pawel Soloch told a public TV broadcaster on Thursday.

He said that the Polish army's participation in missions in Afghanistan was one of the arguments for strengthening Nato's eastern flank.

On April 14, the North Atlantic Council, Nato's main political decision-making body, decided that there was "no military solution" to the challenges Afghanistan faces and announced the end of the allied mission in the country.

The member states' foreign ministers announced that "the withdrawal will be orderly, coordinated and deliberate" and is to be completed within a few months.

In 2001, Poland joined the US Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, sending a contingent of soldiers from the special unit Grom, along with sappers and logisticians.

In March 2002, the Polish Army assigned the first, 300-strong group to the International Security Assistance Force - ISAF.

In 2007, Poland increased its contingent in Afghanistan to 1,200 soldiers and military employees and assumed responsibility for two Afghan provinces.

After the completion of the ISAF mission, Poles joined the Nato-led, non-combat mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces. The last contingent shift as part of the Resolute Support operation numbered 400 soldiers and military employees.

A total of 40 Poles died during missions in Afghanistan.