South Yorkshire MPs call for medals for Afghanistan evacuation heroes

Two South Yorkshire MPs have called upon the government to award medals to troops who aided the evacuation of Afghanistan.

By Danielle Andrews, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 10th September 2021, 4:42 pm

More than 1,000 UK service personnel took part in Operation Pitting, which airlifted 15,000 people fleeing oppression and persecution as the country fell to the Taliban.

The mission was the largest of its kind since the Second World War and John Healey and Dan Jarvis have both called on the Government to formally recognise the armed forces’ exceptional efforts and professionalism.

Under existing criteria, troops would not receive medals as the mission did not meet the 30-days continuous service for which they are awarded.

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Dan Jarvis MP.

Mr Healey, Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne and Shadow Defence Secretary said: “Our armed forces played a life-saving role in the evacuation of Afghanistan, risking their lives to airlift 15,000 people in just 14 days.

“Stuffy conventionalism should not stop us from recognising their bravery. This was a crisis mission, in a conflict zone. It was dangerous, difficult and successful.

“Even though it was shorter than the arbitrary 30-day medal threshold, the troops on Operation Pitting absolutely deserve a medal. Ministers should commemorate their role and honour them.”

Barnsley Central MP, South Yorkshire Mayor and Parachute Regiment veteran Dan Jarvis backed the calls, adding: “Amidst the chaos and carnage of the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, it was hugely heartening to see young men and women from our Armed Forces – and especially paratroopers from my old Regiment! – serving with immense courage, dedication and professionalism.

“Given the emphasis our Armed Forces rightly place on the importance of flexibility, I hope the MoD has the flexibility to ensure everyone who deployed on Op PITTING gets a medal.

“It’s the very least we owe them after all they’ve done for us.”