A special investigation into Scotland’s forgotten war


It has been dubbed the “Eternal War” – the longest military campaign ever waged by our soldiers.

The war in Afghanistan was sparked by the horror of the September 11 terrorist attacks that destroyed the Twin Towers.

US-led coalition forces invaded the country targeting Osama bin Laden – the architect of the atrocity – his al-Qaeda fighters and the Taliban who sheltered him.

A total of 39 Scots, including staff from Tayside and Fife, Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Highlands, lost their lives.

Many more were physically injured or bore the invisible psychological scars of their service.

The brave Scots and women have always been at the heart of the campaign which spanned 20 years – longer than World War I and World War II combined.

It cost billions of dollars and left a total of 457 British soldiers dead.

Our Impact investigative reporter Stephen Stewart traveled to Afghanistan as a war reporter in 2009 and became part of the Black Watch as they conducted airborne surgeries against Taliban strongholds in the ‘heartland’. of darkness ”afghan.

Stephen stewart

His life was transformed by his mission. He returned home, joined the Army in 2011, then deployed as a Private in The Royal Regiment of Scotland to uncover the true story of life on the front lines of our troops in one of the most dangerous countries. of the planet.

Now he examines the legacy of fierce combat and how – as the last troops return home for the last time – many fear that the “eternal war” will become the forgotten war as the sacrifices made in the murder. Helmand and Kandahar fields are neglected.

“A huge debt of gratitude”

Boris Johnson told the British Parliament on July 7 that leaving the war-torn country was “fraught with risk”.

He spoke as the Taliban advanced rapidly across Afghanistan as British and American troops returned home.

He said: “If you ask me if I feel happy with the current situation in Afghanistan, of course not. I am apprehensive.

A Defense Ministry spokesperson said: “The majority of British troops have now withdrawn from Afghanistan and Operation Toral is coming to an end, in accordance with NATO’s mission.

“The country owes a huge debt of gratitude to the 457 British servicemen who lost their lives in Afghanistan and to those who suffered life-changing injuries. “

3 Scottish personnel, deployed as part of Operation Toral, departing from Hamid Karzai International Airport on their way back to the United Kingdom. (MOD / Crown Copyright)

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Operation Toral is coming to an end, but not our continued support for the Afghan security forces and the Afghan government.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all who have served in Afghanistan for the past 20 years, especially those who lost their lives. Their efforts have helped prevent international terrorism and put the country on the path to peace. We hope that the agreement reached last year will form the basis for progress.

“We will now continue this important work as we move into a new phase in Afghanistan. “

Read the full series

The Impact team

    • By Stephen Stewart
    • Design by Cheryl Livingstone
    • Graphics by Roddie Reid
    • Data visualizations by Lesley-Anne Kelly
    • Photographs, video and audio by Jason Hedges, Mhairi Edwards, Drew Farrell, Blair Dingwall and Morven McIntyre.

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