Bagram (AP), Afghanistan — The United States left Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan nearly 20 years later. They shut off electricity and fled at night without notifying the new Afghan commander at the base, who discovered the American departure more than two hours after they left. Afghan military officials said.
Afghan troops unveiled a vast air force base on Monday, leaving the Taliban and a rare first glance at what was the source of the American war to hunt down al-Qaeda perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Provided.
The United States announced on Friday that it had completely vacated the country’s largest airfield prior to its final withdrawal, which the Pentagon said would be completed by the end of August.
“We heard rumors that Americans had left Bagram … and finally by 7 am it was confirmed that they had already left Bagram,” said Bagram’s new commander, Mir.・ General Asadura Kohistani mentioned above.
Just an hour’s drive from Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, the airfield was invaded by a small army of predators before it was ruled by Afghan troops. ..
“At first I thought it was the Taliban,” said 10-year-old soldier Abdul Rauf. He said the United States called from Kabul Airport and said, “We are here at Kabul Airport.”
Kohistani argued that despite the Taliban’s series of victories on the battlefield, Afghanistan’s national security and defense forces could maintain a highly fortified base. There are also prisons at the airfield with about 5,000 prisoners, many of whom are said to be Taliban.
The latest Taliban surge comes when the last US and NATO troops withdraw from the country. As of last week, most NATO soldiers had already left quietly. The last US soldier may remain until an agreement is reached to protect Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport, which Turkey is expected to make.
On the other hand, in northern Afghanistan, districts fell to the Taliban one after another. In the last two days, hundreds of Afghan soldiers have fled across the border to Tajikistan instead of fighting armed groups.
“In combat, we can move forward and backward,” Kohistani said.
Mr Kohistani said the Afghan army has changed its strategy to focus on strategic areas. He argued that they would get them back in the next few days, without saying how it would be achieved.
Exhibited during Monday was a huge facility the size of a small city that was used exclusively by the United States and NATO. There are roads through buildings such as barracks and hangars, which are extraordinary in size. Due to the blast wall that protects each aircraft, there are two runways for fighters called seawalls and more than 100 parking lots. One of the two runways is 12,000 feet (3,660 meters) long and was built in 2006. There is a passenger lounge, a 50-bed hospital, and a huge hangar-sized tent filled with furniture and other equipment.
According to Kohistani, the United States has 3.5 million items left, all of which have been itemized by the departing US military. They include tens of thousands of bottles of water, energy drinks, and ready-to-use military meals known as the MRE.
“Speaking of 3.5 million items, every phone, every doorknob, every window in every barracks, every door in every barracks, every little item,” he said.
The remaining high-priced goods include thousands of civilian vehicles, many without the keys to start them, and hundreds of armored vehicles. According to Kohistani, the United States also left behind small weapons and their ammunition, but the departing troops carried heavy weapons. Weapon ammunition not left in the Afghan army was blown up before they left.
Afghan soldiers who wandered the entire base on Monday once saw 100,000 US troops and were deeply critical of how the United States left Bagram.
“One night they lost all their 20 years of goodwill by leaving at night as they did without telling the Afghan soldiers outside who were patrolling the area,” said Afghan soldier Naematullah. Said. second hand.
Within 20 minutes of the quiet departure of the United States on Friday, electricity was cut off and the base went into darkness, said Rauf, a 10-year soldier who also worked at the Taliban fortresses in Helmand and Kandahar. It was.
He said the sudden darkness was like a signal to a small army of looters. They broke through the first barrier from the north, plundered buildings and loaded unpinned trucks.
On Monday, three days after the departure of the United States, Afghan soldiers were still collecting a pile of garbage such as empty water bottles, cans, and empty energy drinks left by the predators.
US military spokesman Colonel Sony Leggett did not address the specific complaints of many Afghan soldiers who inherited the abandoned airfield on Monday, but instead referred to last week’s statement.
The statement said the delivery was underway shortly after President Joe Biden’s mid-April announcement that the United States would withdraw its last unit. He said in the statement that they coordinated their departure with Afghan leaders.
Meanwhile, Kohistani said the US and NATO’s nearly 20 years of involvement in Afghanistan were appreciated, but now it’s time for Afghanistan to step up.
“We have to solve our problems. We have to secure the country and build it again with our own hands,” he said.
Associated Press writer Tameem Akhgar contributed to this report