At the end of August, the whole world was looking at Afghanistan: the Taliban regained control of the country, took the capital, Kabul, and there was only one place, the city’s airport, free of radicals. From there the international evacuation took place.
Spain, in an emergency mission, chartered 17 flights and managed to evacuate more than 2,000 people, including Spaniards and Afghan citizens who had collaborated with our country. The military of the land and air forces made it possible.
A team from ‘Hora 25’ has traveled to the military bases of Alicante and Zaragoza to listen to the experience that six of them had in the midst of the chaos and tension that took hold of Kabul in those days. They are part of the special operations command (the soldiers Cachorro, Frigo and Ghandi, as they call themselves in the missions), and of the Air Force (the soldiers Paniagua, Caamaño and González Sampedro).
“As soon as we saw in the media what was happening in Afghanistan, they warned us because it was possible that they would activate us to go. Since they warned us, in six hours we were ready to leave,” explained one of them when he remembered that moment. .
Everyone talks about the training they receive to face these types of missions. What is needed to withstand the pressure and responsibility that moments like this require is training: “Our job is to be trained to do these missions. It is very bad technique to think what can happen to you, because then, you do not advance.”
The stress under which they work prevents them from analyzing the danger they are experiencing. They are aware, they say, once they are back home: “It is when you return when you realize the days you have been without them, when you realize what you have been missing. When you return and see your daughter, You think that you have been in an area where there has been a risk of an attack, and that if something happens to you, you will miss it. But you think about it once you are at home, at the moment you are not, because if not, surely , we wouldn’t. “
They were unfolded in a scene that they remember chaotic. The special forces were in the front line, at the airport access. That was the first control: who has papers to enter, who does not. And inside the enclosure, another unit, in a second control to check who gets on the plane. “You don’t have time to think, you keep it inside and take it home. And you remembered: I’ve been rushing a child who had burns on his feet.
And I was rushing them because I had to get them out quickly, ship them quickly … . But at the moment, at that moment you have to focus on work. We had an hour on the ground in Kabul and another plane was coming behind. There comes a time when you have to depersonalize, the refugee becomes a number, and then you take that to the hotel inside.
When they remember the mission, each one returns to a concrete image, to the stories that each citizen brings behind their backs. “One day I had a 15-day-old girl on top, smiling. She was not in that environment, obviously she did not realize what was happening, but in a desolate environment, that laugh gave hope and joy to everyone else.” “I helped an old man get off the plane, and he kept thanking me.
The expression he had of having lost everything, of not knowing where he was, of believing that he was already in Spain. And you told him no, that he had We had to get on another plane. But even so, he didn’t stop thanking us. There were no language problems, we understood each other perfectly. ” Another of them recounted how he remembered his wife, who was pregnant, when he saw pregnant women there: “
The moment the plane doors are closed, everything changes: For Afghans who leave their country, who, according to the military, their faces changed as soon as the plane takes off, and also for members of the army who know that the mission has concluded.