By Christopher Harper
The Biden administration’s pullout of the U.S. military from Afghanistan is deployable and disheartening.
After 20 years in the country, the United States left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield by shutting off the electricity and slipping away in the night without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander, the Associated Press reported.
“We (heard) some rumor that the Americans had left Bagram … and finally by seven o’clock in the morning, we understood that it was confirmed that they had already left Bagram,” Gen. Mir Asadullah Kohistani, Bagram’s new commander, told the AP.
Before the Afghan army could take control of the airfield, which lies about an hour’s drive from the Afghan capital of Kabul, it was invaded by a small army of looters, who ransacked barrack after barrack and rummaged through giant storage tents before being evicted, according to local military officials.
The sprawling air base was at the center of America’s war to unseat the Taliban and hunt down the al-Qaida planners of the 9/11 attacks on America.
Used by the U.S. and NATO forces, Bagram includes two runways and more than 100 parking slots for fighter jets known as revetments because of the blast walls that protect each aircraft. The base also consists of a prison with about 5,000 prisoners, many of them from the Taliban.
The U.S. forces reportedly left behind thousands of civilian vehicles, many of them without keys to start them. The departing troops took heavy weapons and blew up ammunition on the base.
The military did leave tens of thousands of bottles of water, energy drinks, and military ready-made meals, known as MREs, which will prove of little use in the fight against the Taliban.
The AP spoke with Afghan soldiers at the base that had once seen as many as 100,000 U.S. troops. The Afghans criticized how the United States left Bagram, escaping in the night without telling the Afghan soldiers who patrol the perimeter.
“In one night, they lost all the goodwill of 20 years by leaving the way they did, in the night, without telling the Afghan soldiers who were outside patrolling the area,” said one Afghan soldier.
Biden plans to pull out all U.S. troops by August, leaving a vacuum that will almost certainly lead to the Taliban taking power once again.
In northern Afghanistan, for example, district after district has fallen to the Taliban, and most analysts think the group will retake the country.
Although I concede that the United States stayed too long in Afghanistan, the departure of troops under the cover of darkness sends a clear signal to allies that the United States can no longer be trusted.