On 15 August 2021, the world watched in horror as Kabul fell to the Taliban, almost 20 years after Western-backed Afghan forces overthrew the Taliban government in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. During those 20 years, the US, the UK and their allies tried to build a modern democratic society in Afghanistan, alongside fighting a counterinsurgency and eradicating Al-Qaeda terrorism.

Kabul: Final Call by Sir Laurie Bristow offers personal insights into the looming collapse of Afghanistan as Western military forces pulled out. It describes the horror of the chaotic evacuation from Kabul and pays tribute to the quiet heroism of the UK soldiers and civilians on the ground, who brought over 15,000 vulnerable Afghans to safety against impossible odds in under two weeks.

The panellists will discuss the events that led to the evacuation of Afghanistan as Western military forces withdrew. They will also reflect on the human cost of this strategic failure, particularly for Afghan women and girls, and the impact on the families of the soldiers who gave their lives, as well as those whose bodies and minds were broken by the war.

Kabul: Final Call - The Inside Story of the Withdrawal from Afghanistan, August 2021 is published by Whittles this month.


  • Sir Laurie Bristow KCMG, President of Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge; RUSI Distinguished Fellow; and former UK Ambassador to Afghanistan 
  • Shaharzad Akbar, Executive Director, Rawadari and former Chair, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission

The panel will be chaired by Sir Simon Gass GCMG CVO, RUSI Distinguished Fellow, former NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan and the UK Prime Minister's Special Representative for the Afghan Transition from 2021 to 2022.

Joining Instructions

This event is online-only and is open to all RUSI members. If you have any questions regarding this event, please email [email protected].