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Soldiers out, civilians left behind: EU lessons from the evacuation of Kabul

Afghanistan / REPORT
Mihai Sebastian Chihaia , Georg Riekeles

Date: 16/08/2023
This is the introduction to a three-part Report that reviews the evacuation of Kabul, and the combined failures of NATO and the EU, amid the war in Ukraine. Even if Europe’s security debate has moved on to this bigger and more pressing challenge, the EU must heed the lessons from Kabul as it reviews its crisis management architecture and implements the Strategic Compass.

The exact conditions of the Afghanistan evacuation might not be seen again for many years. Still, the EU must consider a range of other scenarios: European soldiers or citizens in danger needing evacuation from failing states or war zones, military support for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, or even short-term stability support to governments and initial entry missions.

This requires a commitment to, and building of, EU rapid deployment capacities that are effectively ready to be used, associated with appropriate crisis management structures for EU decision-making.

These are the questions that have interested this project, whose examination is structured in three parts:

  1. A description of the central decision moments leading up to and during the evacuation from Afghanistan.
  2. An assessment of the main factors contributing to failure in anticipation, planning and execution.
  3. Recommendations regarding the EU’s crisis management architecture and capacity in the context of the implementation of the Strategic Compass.

Read the full paper here.
Photo credits:
Bertrand Guay / AFP

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