Examples of well-planned military withdrawals?

Reading the news about Afghanistan makes me wonder: When faced with a nationwide insurgency, just how feasible is it for an occupier to plan and execute an orderly withdrawal?

Which led me to wonder: Since 1945, have there been Great Power withdrawals (from a colony or client state) that were notable for their far-sighted and successful planning despite dangerous conditions on the ground? (And if so, are there any lessons we can take from them?)

Vietnam (1975), Iraq 2011, Malta 1968. Afghanistan 1989.
Even India 1947 seems well thought out compared to this shyt show,

I would say most occupations, whether they ended in success or failure, have featured better planned withdrawals than what we are seeing in Afghanistan. Largely because we clearly had not planned on withdrawing, and it shows.

Roman withdrawal from Britain c.400 AD seems to have worked our pretty well! But that was a bit before 1945.

It’s not feasible. If the occupying power is propping up a corrupt and unpopular government, whose own forces are unwilling to fight for it … then the insurgents are just waiting for you to leave. Orderly or otherwise. This happened in Vietnam, and again in Afghanistan.

You mean where Constantine III stole the vast majority of the troops in 407 to invade Gaul as part of a sort of rebellion, and then later when the Romano-Britons appealed to Emperor Honorius for assistance, he told them to “Look to their own defenses”?

I don’t feel the withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975 can be held up as an example of how to do things the right way. It was widely seen as a fiasco at the time with many of the same accusations being made as we are hearing this week. There were the famous scenes of helicopters lifting people off the embassy roof as pro-American Vietnamese mobbed the outside of the building, trying to get out of the country. And the evacuation was so poorly planned that helicopters were thrown over the sides of ships in order to make room for the next wave of helicopters.

The reality is that the only way a country can withdraw from another country with dignity is if the forces taking over the country choose to allow them that dignity.

The US withdrawal in 1975 wasn’t quite the same thing; combat had stopped in January 1973, and US combat troops were withdrawn by March of 1973.

By 1975, the only people left were the embassy staff, and the withdrawal at that point was due to the collapse of the ARVN, and the impending arrival of the NVA in Saigon. So the US was evacuating the embassy staff and dependents and friendly Vietnamese.

I was responding to someone who was apparently giving Vietnam in 1975 as an example of a well-planned military withdrawal.

Well, the U.S. and rest of the U.N. troops got out of Korea in an orderly manner.

Pre-1945, the British and other Allied forces miraculously evacuated Gallipoli without the same grievous foulups that marked the invasion. And the Japanese managed to pull their remaining troops off Gualdalcanal without alerting the victorious Allied army and navy.

In the latter two cases, speed and secrecy were paramount.

The major lesson with Afghanistan is - don’t occupy Afghanistan in the first place.

US troops are still in Korea. 28,500 of them.

Might as well put Japan and Germany on that list too.

Except U.S. troops are not there as occupiers.


And they will only allow them that dignity if the the war was fought to a draw. If one side completely loses, as here, there can’t be a well–planned military withdrawal.

Another take: If a well-organized nation like VIetnam, whose long-term strategic interest is to ally with distant powers against the traditional threat from China, wouldn’t allow us a dignified withdrawal, you surely can’t expect it of a narco-state.

P.S. It is not in the Taliban’s interest to unduly antagonize their largest and most profitable export market. I hope there is someone high up in the Taliban who looks at it that way and will allow refugee flights in and out of Kabul for several weeks. It that happens, yesterday and today won’t look as bad. But history tells us that more U.S. humiliation is coming.

The Allies retreated from the Gallipolli campaign. This took place in World War I, with UK, Australia, New Zealand and maybe Canada against the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) with some slight German support.

The Allied invasion was botched. Their retreat was great.

I read about it in a book, but looked up a link to show you:

Both Afghanistan and Vietnam were civil wars in which the United States got involved. While we think of the world revolving around us, the participants in those civil wars were more concerned about the situation in their own country than the international situation.

The Taliban saw no reason to give Ghani and his government an opportunity to dig in. They saw it being their advantage to follow right on the heels of the departing Americans and oust Ghani as quickly as possible. The fact that it made America look bad was probably barely a consideration.

Hmmm…Vietnam seems to have successfully disengaged from Cambodia/Kampuchea without too many failures.

Vietnam certainly took plenty of casualties during their ten year occupation, but once they pulled out the native puppet government they established continued to function until replaced by a more or less democratic process. Also the new Cambodian army Vietnam built more or less from scratch while not capable of crushing the the remnants of the Khmer Rouge and other opposition forces, were able to hold their ground against them and largely contain them. This eventually forced all sides (Khmer Rouge later reneged and were effectively marginalized) to the negotiating table.

It’s about as much of a success story as I can think of.

Interestingly, I found an article that describes the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan as a “well-executed and carefully planned disengagement operation.” As the article notes, the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan lasted another three years after Soviet forces had withdrawn.

That’s what I’m saying - it WAS a well-planned military withdrawal. We withdrew our combat troops in March 1973… and Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese two years later in April 1975.

Operation Frequent Wind - Wikipedia

We withdrew our embassy staff, and then a whole heck of a lot of South Vietnamese-1373 of the former, and 5595 of the latter. In two days. That’s a heck of an accomplishment, not a failed withdrawal.

You mean when we were plunged into the Dark Ages, and didn’t make a proper recovery for about 1000 years? That withdrawal?

Well, if we’re going to go strictly by well-organized withdrawals, that does not necessarily have to entail “to the benefit of those being withdrawn from”. And may we point out, 66 years after the legions were pulled from Britannia in 410, the whole Western Empire had melted away, so it’s not as if it would have helped that much.

Vietnam is a peculiar case, ISTM the withdrawal of the US battlefield forces and repatriation of POWs in 1972-73 WAS done in an orderly, well-executed fashion. It was the fall of Saigon after the collapse of ARVN a year and a half later, that was chaotic.