DEFENSE

Spain to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan before October 31

The around 420 military personnel stationed in Herat are set to return home this fall.

Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenés hands over security of the Badghis region to the Afghan National Army in 2013.
Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenés hands over security of the Badghis region to the Afghan National Army in 2013.Juan Carlos Hidalgo / EFE

The Spanish armed forces’ mission in Afghanistan is reaching its end nearly 14 years after it started.

The 420 Spanish troops stationed in Herat, in the east of the country, are set to leave before October 31.

Once their withdrawal is complete, the only remaining Spanish presence in Afghanistan will be the 20 officials based at NATO general headquarters in Kabul, who are set to stay until the end of the year.

At its height, Spain had over 1,500 military personnel stationed in Afghanistan

At its height, Spain had over 1,500 military personnel stationed in Afghanistan.

The Spanish contingent forms part of Operation Resolute Support, which replaced the old International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat mission, and provides assistance and advice to the Afghan authorities.

The withdrawal from Herat, where Spanish forces first arrived in 2005, will involve a complex logistical operation, though not quite as complicated as the one carried out two years ago when they left Badghis province.

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Over 18,000 Spanish troops have passed through Afghanistan since the first 350 soldiers arrived in Kabul in January 2002, four months after the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington .

In 2005 Spain assumed command of the Herat base and took charge of the provincial reconstruction team in Qala-i-Naw, ultimately handing the area over to Afghan authorities in September 2013.

Ninety-nine members of the Spanish armed forces and two interpreters working for them have died in Afghanistan since the start of the mission. In total the deployment has cost the Spanish government around €3.7 billion.

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