Tragedy in Afghanistan

The last Norwegian soldiers depart from Kabul airport

Norwegian soldiers combing off an airplane

Photo: Beate Oma Dahle / NTB
The plane from Tbilisi with the last Norwegian soldiers from Afghanistan arrives at Gardermoen Airport.


On the night of Aug. 30, a plane landed with the last Norwegian soldiers serving in Afghanistan. With that, 20 years of presence in the war-torn country was over.

“It is a different Afghanistan now than then, so the continuation will show how successful our presence has been,” said Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen to NTB on the runway of the military section of Oslo’s Gardermoen airport.

Just before 7:20 p.m., the SAS plane landed with just over 30 Norwegian soldiers—the last of a total of almost 10,000 Norwegians who have served in Afghanistan for the past 20 years. They were picked up on very short notice from the airport in Kabul, where they have served at a Norwegian-staffed field hospital. Several changes were made to the withdrawal plans in the last 24 hours because of the ongoing terrorist threat to the airport. The plane took them to Tbilisi in Georgia before boarding a civilian plane and heading for Norway.

On board were special forces soldiers, health personnel, and personnel who have had various support functions at the field hospital, according to the head of the Norwegian Armed Forces’ sanitation, Jon Reichelt. When they got off the plane, they were not allowed to tell the press what they have experienced in recent weeks.

“I feel confident that they have done a very good job and look forward to talking to them” Reichelt told NTB right after the plane landed. He said that those who served at the field hospital had been under tremendous pressure, especially after the two suicide attacks on the airport’s outer perimeter. There was a constant stream of injured people, many with gunshot wounds and explosion injuries.

“The personnel at the field hospital have received a lot of praise—also from the American side. This is what these teams are trained to handle. They are tired and have many impressions to process,” said Reichelt.

Translated by Lori Ann Reinhall

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 3, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

Avatar photo


NTB (Norsk Telegrambyrå), the Norwegian News Agency, is a press agency and wire service that serves most of the largest Norwegian media outlets. The agency is located in Oslo and has bureaus in Brussels, Belgium, and Tromsø in northern Norway