Our operations in Afghanistan are now coming to an end and the last of our people are returning home. This has been the largest Royal Air Force airlift since Berlin in 1948. It has been a phenomenal effort in the most testing circumstances and is testament to the skill, courage and resilience of everyone involved.
In the last two weeks, we have given new hope to the thousands of Afghans we have moved to safety. It has been a harrowing end to the two decades of coalition operations in Afghanistan which have shaped the careers of many of us. There has been significant sacrifice, and I know that for some of you, your lives have been changed forever by what you experienced; support is there for you if you need it. Our operations since 2001 have denied extremists a safe haven to plot terror on our streets, and we should never lose sight of all that we did to improve millions of lives in Afghanistan during that time.
This has been a whole force effort throughout, and I pay tribute not only to our regulars, reservists, civil servants and contractors but also to our families and loved ones who gave their unwavering support and made sacrifices of their own.
I offer my heartfelt thanks to all those who served on or supported coalition operations in Afghanistan, and especially the historic airlift now coming to an end. Your service has been in the finest traditions of the Royal Air Force. Look back with pride in the knowledge you did your best when called.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston
Chief of the Air Staff