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US Left Bagram Without Notifying New Commander

3.5M items were left behind at Afghanistan base
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 5, 2021 2:58 PM CDT

(Newser) – The US 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. The US announced Friday it had completely vacated its biggest airfield in the country. Afghanistan’s army showed off the sprawling air base Monday, the AP reports. "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, said. He said the US left behind 3.5 million items, from bottles of water to thousands of vehicles, many of them without keys to start them.

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Afghan soldiers who wandered Monday throughout the base were deeply critical of how the US exited, leaving in the night without telling the Afghan soldiers tasked with patrolling the perimeter. Before the Afghan army could take control of the airfield about an hour’s drive from the Afghan capital 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 Afghan military officials. Kohistani insisted the Afghan National Security and Defense Force could hold on to the heavily fortified base despite a string of Taliban wins on the battlefield. The airfield also includes a prison with about 5,000 prisoners, many of them allegedly Taliban.

(Read more Bagram air base stories.)

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