MOD unveils new medal to honour Kabul evacuation heroes

It’s been announced by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) that members of the Armed Forces who were deployed during Operation Pitting to support the evacuation from Afghanistan in August 2021 will receive medallic recognition for their contribution.

Operation Pitting Medal OSM Afghanistan

What was Operation Pitting?

Commanded from the UK’s Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood, Operation Pitting was an evacuation effort to airlift thousands of Afghans and British nationals from Afghanistan in August 2021 as the Taliban seized control of the country.

The operation began on 13 August 2021 with Armed Forces providing food and water, clothing, medical supplies and hygiene products for evacuees and policing the airport alongside multiple forces from across the world. It was the largest humanitarian aid operation in over 70 years.

16 Air Assault Brigade put 600 soldiers on the ground to provide force protection and logistical support to the vast operation at Kabul Airport. The RAF also completed a record-breaking flight with a passenger number of 439 on a Globemaster.

The operation ended on 28 August 2021 and resulted in the safe evacuation of over 15,000 people on 100 flights, from at least 38 different nations. This was a key part of a multi-national effort which secured the evacuation of over 122,000 people.

What will service personnel receive for Operation Pitting?

Personnel from across the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force will receive the Operational Service Medal (OSM) Afghanistan, with its own distinctive clasp, for their involvement in Operation Pitting.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Operation PITTING will go down as one of the great achievements of our UK Armed Services and their civilian counterparts in the post-war era. The whole country can be immensely proud of their tireless work to bring men, women and children to safety. They represent the very best of us.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Last August, the Armed Forces demonstrated true heroism, bravery and dedication by supporting Operation Pitting – a monumental effort to airlift over 15,000 vulnerable Afghans and British nationals from Afghanistan during a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis.

“I would like to thank them, and all our service personnel, on behalf of the public and UK Government for safely evacuating endangered Afghans through some of the most desperate scenes imaginable. You have done us all proud.”

What does the Operation Pitting medal look like?

The medal is the existing OSM Afghanistan, but with an ‘OPERATION PITTING’ clasp. Those who already have the OSM Afghanistan with the ‘AFGHANISTAN’ clasp will receive the new clasp to affix to the ribbon.

  • The medal is silver and circular in shape. The obverse shows the crowned effigy of Elizabeth II with the inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA FID. DEF. The reverse bears the Union Flag, surrounded by the inscription FOR OPERATIONAL SERVICE and the four major points of the compass with, between the points, four Coronets: Royal (top left), Naval (Navy, top right), Mural (Army, bottom left), and Astral (Royal Air Force, bottom right).
  • The ribbon consists of a broad central red stripe, flanked each side by a stripe of navy blue and one of light blue, to represent the three services, with an outer stripe of light brown, to represent the Afghan landscape.
  • The clasp reads OPERATION PITTING.

See also

The New Year Honours list 2022

Commonwealth New Year Honours 2022

The history of the George Cross

What is the Polar Medal?

Image: Ministry of Defence

Publication date: 19 January 2022