Why can’t the UK hold Kabul airport without the US?

The UK has warned the US decision to leave Afghanistan on 31 August will mean an end to evacuations from Kabul airport. It is calling for “safe passage” to continue after that date, but why can’t the UK hold Kabul airport without the US?

The US is providing the bulk of the troops to keep the airport secure and is running many of its facilities – including air traffic control. It is also providing intelligence and surveillance for the operation – which would take significant time and resources to replace.

Gen Sir Richard Barrons, commander Joint Forces Command from 2013 until 2016, said carrying out evacuations without US support would be extremely difficult.

“We would have to be prepared to leave the airport, and fight the Taliban to go and get these people. I just don’t see that as a credible proposition.

“And secondly, if the Taliban don’t want our aeroplanes to use the airport, one mortar round, one missile, one burst of machine gun fire, and the evacuation is over.”

On Wednesday, the BBC was told there were 2,000 people eligible for the UK government’s Afghan relocation scheme still in Afghanistan.

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