UK nears end of Afghanistan pullout

The British Combat Logistics Patrol British troops have made the final road trips to recover equipment from closed UK bases before heading back to Camp Bastion

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The British Army has made another significant move towards its final withdrawal from Afghanistan and has now pulled back to controlling just two bases.

UK troops are now only operating at their Afghanistan headquarters at Camp Bastion and an observation post called Sterga 2, both of which are in Helmand.

At the height of the war, more than 10,000 soldiers controlled 137 bases.

Only 4,000 troops currently remain in the country.

'Smallest footprint'

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Bastion was once a bustling military metropolis, in its sheer scale comparable to Reading. But it is now slowly becoming more of a ghost town.”

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BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said that Camp Bastion itself was shrinking in size as soldiers and military kit were shipped or flown back to the UK.

He said: "The British military described it as a complex and well-planned operation that's taken over a month and involved dozens of movements by road and by air.

"The British now occupy their smallest footprint since they first entered Helmand."

Part of this most recent exit operation has involved handing over the Lashkar Gah base, formerly a main operating base for the British, to the Afghans.

And in the coming months, control of Sterga will be handed over to Nato.

'Very proud'

The number of deaths of British troops throughout the 13-year conflict stands at 448.

What lies ahead for Camp Bastion?

The cut-off date for the end of combat operations for Nato forces is the end of this year.

The British are all leaving Helmand. That includes not just the soldiers but also Foreign Office workers who've been involved in helping run schools and governments here in Helmand.

So there will be no-one on the ground as far as Britain's concerned at the end of 2014. And the departure might happen sooner.

We don't know what's going to happen to this camp, whether it could be taken over by the Americans, who are next door, or the Afghans who are still here.

The only British presence in Afghanistan post-2014 will be running the military academy up in Kabul.

Apart from that, there will be no boots on the ground.

The most recent was that of Sapper Adam Moralee, from 32 Engineer Regiment, who died at Camp Bastion on 5 March.

Following a visit to Camp Bastion in December, Prime Minster David Cameron said UK troops could go home from Afghanistan knowing it was mission accomplished.

"To me, the absolute driving part of the mission is a basic level of security so it doesn't become a haven for terror," he said.

"That is the mission, that was the mission and I think we will have accomplished that mission and so our troops can be very proud of what they have done."

Labour responded by saying the "job was not yet done" and there was "no room for complacency when our armed forces are engaged in an ongoing, dangerous and complicated military operation".

Mr Cameron's comments came after Afghan President Hamid Karzai said there was only "partial" security in the country and foreign troops should have done more to target safe havens in Pakistan.

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