'I feel used!': Tearful veteran 'embarrassed' by Britain's Afghan withdrawal

24 May 2022, 14:00

By James Bickerton

An Afghan war veteran has told James O'Brien he is "embarrassed" about how the UK's withdrawal was handled last year.

John, who served three tours with the Royal Marine Commandos, said he now feels "used" by the British Government.

In follows the publication of a damning report by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, which found there were "serious systemic failures" to how the evacuation from Kabul was handled in August.

Appearing on James O'Brien's LBC show, John, who lost two close friends in Afghanistan, said: "I feel used.

"I feel sorry for the Afghan people.

"When we saw the withdrawal, I felt embarrassed for the United Kingdom because of the way our politicians were acting. They were blasé about it.

"I am blaming the people who were at the top who have got no empathy with what was happening on the ground.

"They are more concerned about people's votes - about staying in power."

The report was particularly scathing of Sir Philip Barton, head of the Foreign Office, which it urged to resign.

It also found Foreign Office officials were "intentionally evasive and often deliberately misleading" in their evidence to the inquiry.

READ MORE: Govt blasted for 'disaster' Kabul withdrawal and 'betrayal' of allies in scathing report

During the call John singled Boris Johnson out for criticism, commenting: "I voted to put that man in power and I'm disgusted with myself.

"Everybody's calling Boris Johnson a war leader - no he's not! Because I wouldn't go to war with him.

"I'll tell you where I'd put him - pot washer. He wouldn't even get out of the camp."

Speaking to Sky News, in response to the committee's report, a Government spokesperson said: "Our staff worked tirelessly to evacuate over 15,000 people from Afghanistan within a fortnight.

"This was the biggest UK mission of its kind in generations and followed months of intensive planning and collaboration between UK government departments. We are still working hard to assist the people of Afghanistan, having already helped over 4,600 individuals to leave the country since the end of the military evacuation.

"We carried out a thorough review to learn lessons from our withdrawal from Afghanistan and have drawn on many of the findings in our response to the conflict in Ukraine including introducing new systems for managing correspondence and increasing senior oversight of our operational and diplomatic response."

READ MORE: Afghan translator 'counting down the minutes' to see family after finally receiving UK visa

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