The United States has wound down its ‘forever war’ in Afghanistan by essentially sneaking off from its largest base there in the middle of the night, reportedly without so much as informing the local Afghan commander.
The somewhat shocking method of departure which immediately left Bagram a “ghost base” – as some are already calling it – was bluntly described by Associated Press as follows: “The U.S. left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield after nearly 20 years by shutting off the electricity and slipping away in the night without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander, who discovered the Americans’ departure more than two hours after they left, Afghan military officials said.”
Images from Bagram Airfield, in Afghanistan evacuated by US forces on Friday. pic.twitter.com/kwpne7ymU4
— Harry Boone (@towersight) July 5, 2021
What’s more is that it caught local Afghan forces so off guard that looting immediately resulted the moment the unsecured base was left devoid of Americans.
The Afghan commander for the area had only initially heard “rumors” of an impending US exit from the airfield, but then soon realized it was already an accomplished fact.
And then the following almost unbelievable scene played out, capping off America’s longest running war in history:
Before the Afghan army could take control, the airfield, barely an hour’s drive from the Afghan capital Kabul, was invaded by a small army of looters, who ransacked barrack after barrack and rummaged through giant storage tents before being evicted, according to Afghan military officials.
“At first we thought maybe they were Taliban,” said Abdul Raouf, a soldier of 10 years. He said the the U.S. called from the Kabul airport and said “we are here at the airport in Kabul.”
It happened days ago but is only just now coming to light, with one Afghan soldier cited by AP as saying, “In one night, they lost all the goodwill of 20 years by leaving the way they did.” More details now emerging are as follows:
The sudden darkness was like a signal to the looters, he said. They entered from the north, smashing through the first barrier, ransacking buildings, loading anything that was not nailed down into trucks.
On Monday, three days after the US departure, Afghan soldiers were still collecting piles of rubbish that included empty water bottles, cans and empty energy drinks left behind by the looters.
Abandoned vehicles left by the Americans:
Despite growing Taliban momentum nationwide amid a serious escalation in attacks on national forces, the Afghan government believes it can hold the sprawling and heavily fortified airbase, which is also home to a prison which holds mostly Taliban-linked inmates.
The abrupt and under cover of night US departure has reportedly sparked widespread anger among Afghan security forces.
Should the Taliban soon threaten Kabul, believed by many analysts to be a likelihood if not near certainty, the group will probably eye overrunning Bagram first to be used as a strategic launching point toward the Afghan capital.