"Descend Irregulars" Intelligence Award - Afghanistan Operation Aug '21 - May '22

Published on 31st October, 2022

In October 2022, Protective Intelligence Network director, Angelo Bani, received an intelligence Award as member of the "Descend Irregulars", in recognition for an operation run in Afghanistan between late August 2021 and May 2022.

The Award for Inter Agency Excellence was given by the New Zealand Institute of Intelligence Professionals in the Grand Hall of the New Zealand Parliament on the 13th of October.

From the fall of Kabul, the Descend Irregulars enabled the successful evacuation of more than 1,000 at risk women, children and men from Afghanistan.

The clandestine operation was conceived by us, a volunteer group of former police, intelligence and military professionals who lent their experience and skills to those in need, and quietly achieved an extraordinary outcome.

Descend Irregulars initially formed to provide intelligence overwatch and operational coordination of the evacuation of 46 young women mountaineers from Kabul to Mazar Sharif, after they were turned away from the Kabul International Airport.

Later, as the last official flights departed Mazar Airport with many who had supported coalition efforts still left behind, the Descend Irregulars adapted an approach used by the Special Operations Executive during WW2 to develop what became known as the Britannia line - a modern-day rat line connecting those at risk from the Taliban, securing their exit pathways through Afghanistan to networks of safe houses in Pakistan, before departing for their final destinations.

Now over a year on, many of those helped by the Descend Irregulars have reached their final destinations, now residing in NZ, US, UK, Canada, Australia, Chile, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, and Spain.

Protective Intelligence Network is grateful to all Descend Irregulars, and a special thanks goes to Carl Fereday, Tim (Jake) Winslow, Marina LeGree, and Tim Ellis, among others, for their tenacity, quick-thinking while under pressure, and outstanding professional collaboration during the entire operation in Afghanistan.

We are sincerely proud of Protective Intelligence Network tiny contribution to a major emergency, and extremely happy to see several Afghan refugees feel welcomed in their new communities and embracing new peaceful lives.