Houston: The U.S. is abandoning its last Afghan military base. At the behest of US President Joe Biden, the military decided to withdraw immediately from Afghanistan. US troops and their Western allies have since withdrawn from Bagram, the last active air base used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Authorities say major U.S. military operations in Afghanistan have effectively ended. U.S. and Afghan officials say U.S. troops withdrew from the base Thursday night. The U.S. intervention was aimed at ending large-scale land grabs as the Taliban spread through the country’s northern provinces. All valuable US operations in Afghanistan were handed over to the Afghan government. From a very extensive installation in Afghanistan, the United States has been fighting terrorists for two decades.
By mid-July, the White House had decided to withdraw US troops. But it is President Biden’s stance that is holding him back from the weeks leading up to it. This is a great assurance to the US public that the longest foreign war is coming to an end. The other is to convince the Afghan government that the United States is not leaving the country during a Taliban attack but is helping to stand on its own two feet. Until Thursday, Bagram was operating at full capacity. Warplanes, cargo planes and reconnaissance aircraft relied on dual runways, which no longer land in the country.
At present, air support and overhead surveillance for Afghan forces are available from outside the country, from bases in Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, or from aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea. A contingent of 650 troops will remain to protect the US Embassy in the capital, Kabul. It is not clear how long such support will last, but the Pentagon has until September 11 to decide when the U.S. military mission will officially end. However, it should be noted that the US withdrawal comes at a dangerous time for Afghanistan.
Some U.S. intelligence figures predict that the Afghan government will fall to its rival, the Taliban. This could happen within six months of the Americans completing their withdrawal. The Taliban is reportedly moving closer to Kabul after taking over a quarter of the country’s districts in the past two months. Hundreds or thousands of members of the Afghan security forces have surrendered in recent weeks, while their counter-attacks have recaptured a small area from the Taliban. By the time the Afghan army split, local Shiites had re-emerged in the 1990s as echoes of the country’s path to civil war.
Meanwhile, Bagram District Administrator Darwish Raufi said the robbers entered the base Friday morning and seized gas canisters and some laptops shortly after the U.S. troops withdrew. Some were arrested by police. Rufi said the Americans had failed to coordinate their departure with Afghan forces and that there was a security breach at the base. But Col. Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, said the transfer of the base was “coordinated.” While the last 40 years of fighting in Afghanistan may be seen as a civil war, the return to the separatist era of warlords and armed forces has long been feared.
Bagram Airfield was built by the Soviet Union in the 1950s against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains. It became an important military base during the 10 years of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. After the withdrawal of the Soviets in 1989, the Taliban and the so-called Northern Alliance fought for its base. By 2001, United States had found the remains at the Bagram site. In January 2002, when the first American service member was shot dead by the enemy, there were no American flags to put on his coffin. By the height of the American War in 2011, the air base had grown into a small town, with two runways, tens of thousands of residents, shops and a U.S. military prison infamous. The thunder of jets and other planes left hundreds of pounds of weapons across the country, sometimes killing civilians.
The base was further attacked by Taliban rockets and mortars, but sometimes by other means. In one of the worst strikes, in November 2016, a suicide bomber entered Bagram Air Base. The blast killed four Americans and injured more than a dozen. Other foreign troops who helped guard the base as part of a U.S.-led alliance from Georgia and the Czech Republic also saw their own damage. In 2014, Bagram began to shrink as the number of international powers dwindled to one million in the immediate years leading up to the United States ending its first official drawdown after the Troy leap. Local contractors were evicted, soldiers left, and the town around the same town went into economic collapse.
With the disappearance of Bagram, the only remaining American force in the country is Kabul. After General Miller leaves in the next few days, he may launch airstrikes against Al Qaeda and Islamic State and fight the Taliban under very limited circumstances. Rear Admin Peter G. Vasali will be in charge of the security mission at the United States Embassy in Kabul and will report to General McKenzie. Pentagon officials say General McKenzie will have the authority to deploy about 300 troops in Afghanistan in September if security is needed.
English Summary: US forces quit main base in Afghanistan