Nearly 100 soldiers from Fort George have left the Highlands ready to be deployed to Afghanistan if needed.
A crew of 84 members from 3 Scots, the Black Watch, have travelled from the base near Inverness as a high-readiness reserve.
The troops from A Company, who have spent the last week preparing kit and equipment, have now moved to barracks in Gloucestershire as a high-readiness reserves.
The personnel are ready to be deployed to Kabul from RAF Brize Norton if required.
Why are the Black Watch troops needed?
The UK has launched a military task force, christened Operation Pitting, to evacuate British nationals from Afghanistan.
The operation also includes people eligible through the Arap (Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy) scheme, which includes interpreters, embassy staff and others who have supported the UK Government.
Black Watch personnel have joined about 100 others, who just returned from Kabul in June where they were providing protection for Nato training and mentoring in the city.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace visited the Fort George troops ahead of their potential deployment to Afghanistan.
He explained time was growing increasingly critical to evacuate as many people fleeing the Taliban ahead of the proposed US withdrawal on August 31.
Mr Wallace said: “The prime minister is going to raise at G7 the prospect of seeing if the US will extend.
“It’s really important for people to understand that the US has over 6,000 people in Kabul airport and when they withdraw it will take away the framework and we will have to withdraw as well.
Our work to safely evacuate British nationals and Afghan civilians from Kabul continues. So far the UK Armed Forces have flown 6,631 people to safety. We're working closely with the US to keep Kabul Airport secure and operational. pic.twitter.com/6hZXbxXeIU
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) August 23, 2021
“I don’t think there’s any likelihood of staying on after the US.
“If their timetable extends, even by a day or two, then that will give us a day or two more to evacuate more people because we really are talking about hours now and not weeks.”
Calls for UK to support Afghanistan refugees
If Black Watch troops from Fort George deploy to Afghanistan then they will be supporting efforts to evacuate people to the UK.
Between Sunday and Monday, about 1,300 people were flown from Kabul by UK armed forces.
And since August 14, a total of 6,600 have been evacuated as part of Operation Pitting.
Officials at Moray Council have already been tasked with investigating options for refugees to settle in the area while there are calls for Aberdeen City Council to do the same.
However, Mr Wallace warned time was running out to help everyone.
He said: “The hardest thing is to be honest about the reality, which is that we won’t get them all out.
“But we are doing everything in every hour of every day to get them through.”