A SENIOR soldier has celebrated overcoming “chaotic” and “very intense” scenes to successfully evacuate 15,000 people from Afghanistan.

Lt Col Justin Baker, commanding officer of 7 PARA Royal Horse Artillery, has “mixed emotions” about a “strange” experience in Kabul.

He was among the first British troops deployed into the country 19-years-ago and was amid the last out with Operation Pitting.

August’s “unique” mission was unlike any of his previous visits.

“It was an immensely complex situation which you can’t really train for,” he said.

“You can’t replicate the nature of it and everything you do you’re just having to adjust as it unfolds.

“It was a relatively chaotic situation. The infrastructure was clearly not designed to facilitate that kind of activity, with people trying to force their way into the airport.

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“It was very noisy and hot; there was a long wait for people trying to get out. It made for a very compressed crowd and extremely intense situation.

“The confined space with a large amount of people created a lot of uncertainty and with women and children trying to get out, it made the atmosphere even more stressful.

“We are all human beings and we just wanted to help as many people as possible.

“We had to focus on dealing with things in the most compassionate and humane way as possible.

“You’re dealing with confused, frightened civilians who are desperate for a better life.”

Having seen the Taliban as the sworn enemy on previous visits, Lt Col Baker said it was an “uneasy” experience then having to co-operate with them.

“I think everybody recognised it was an unusual situation dealing with the Taliban,” he added.

“A number of the brigade soldiers present had been there on previous tours and the interactions with the Taliban were in a very different fashion - they were clearly treated as the enemy.

“I don’t want to pretend it wasn’t a strange experience being stood a couple of metres from their checkpoints, but I would say it was a workable, if not slightly uneasy, truce.”

Reflecting on the job British forces have carried out in Afghanistan since 2002, Lt Col Baker added there are “mixed emotions”.

He said: “August’s operation was absolutely a success. We evacuated 15,000 people safely back to the UK and returned without losing any soldiers.

“To me, it was a remarkable job which was carried out.”