Military veterans are using the hashtag #DigitalDunkirk to unite on social media and help thousands flee the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The operation takes its name from the famed civilian-aided retreat of British and Allied forces from France during the Second World War.
It offers help and expert advice on the evacuation from Afghanistan of predominantly Western allies and their families, such as interpreters or military personnel.
Jen Wilson, 35, is chief operating officer of Army Week Association in New York, and her team alone has already co-ordinated the escape of 30 from Kabul as part of the mission.
“Dunkirk was every Tom, Dick and Harry with a boat… they all flooded the waters to get these guys out.
“That’s exactly what it is here… we have former Navy Seals going in with their own money… down to me as a civilian sitting in my apartment in New York.
Jubilant troops following the Dunkirk evacuation
(Image: Western Mail Archive)
“It’s all hands on deck, everybody is sending us contacts – I literally just got a contact this morning who works with a guy whose brother’s an Apache (helicopter) pilot on the ground.”
Ms Wilson said a “ragtag bunch of Royal Marines” stationed across the UK are always on hand to help with the international effort, using their sources and contacts to provide intelligence.
Mike Jason, a retired US army colonel and defence consultant, said he believes thousands have been helped by the campaign, which began in the US.
He said: “We have individually helped hundreds known to us personally, but we believe these efforts are having an impact to help thousands.”
Mr Jason’s work began on the project when he received a text from a friend – an Afghan senior army official who was hiding in Kabul with his family.
After helping to evacuate the official and his family, Mr Jason tweeted about “how happy” he was in a thread which then went viral.
“The thread went viral and I was immediately connected with scores of other veterans trying to do the same,” said Mr Jason, who retired as a colonel in 2019.
“We have (since) been organising as a taskforce using our military training – a CNN reporter called it Digital Dunkirk and we grabbed on to that spirit.”
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