U.S. forces, under President Joe Biden’s command, left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield in the dead of night without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander.
That’s according to Afghan military officials, as U.S. troops withdrew from the base Friday in advance of a final withdrawal, shutting off electricity and slipping away in the night, Fox News reported. The new base commander reportedly learned of the Americans’ departure more than two hours after they left.
And it didn’t take long for looters to take advantage of the apparent security failure, pouncing on the carcass of what was a nearly 20-year U.S. presence at an airfield first built by the Russians.
“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,” new base commander Gen. Mir Asadullah Kohistani said, according to Fox News.
U.S. military spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett said in a statement they had coordinated their departures with Afghanistan’s leaders, the Associated Press reported.
The Daily Mail reported that the U.S. “abandoned” Bagram and by the time Afghan forces arrived to secure the site “looters had broken in and carried away many items that the soldiers had left behind — including laptops, stereo speakers, bicycles, and guitars which were being hawked from second-hand shops by Sunday morning.”
Some Afghan forces said they initially thought the looters were the Taliban.
The U.S. also left behind small arms and ammunition, hundreds of military vehicles, and thousands of civilian cars and trucks, according to Kohistani, who said many of the vehicles are missing the keys needed to start them.
Adding insult to injury, a massive beam from the collapsed World Trade Center that was sent as a memorial to Bagram in 2010 was reportedly left behind.
The Afghan commander “also inherited Bagram prison and its roughly 5,000 inmates — mostly believed to be Taliban,” the British tabloid noted.
Bagram, which had 100,000 troops passing through each year at the height of the American presence there, is now under Afghan control. Gen. Kohistani is reportedly confident that the Afghan National Security and Defense Force can hold the heavily fortified base amid a Taliban surge.
“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,” one Afghan soldier said of the abrupt departure, according to the AP.
Former assistant secretary of state Robert Charles appeared on “Fox & Friends First” early Tuesday to offer a sober analysis on Biden’s decision to withdraw.
“I think things would have been very different if President Trump had secured the peace accord he was on track to secure. In my view, this is a layered security failure,” Charles said. “The first thing that’s going to happen is you pull the tripwires, so now the level of deterrence you had against bad acts by the Taliban, by ISIS, by Al Qaeda is gone. That’s the first error, the second one is they think they can secure the situation in the withdrawal with one carrier, the Ronald Reagan, that they pulled out of the Western Pacific.”
(Video: Fox News)
Noting that one carrier will not secure a country over an extended period of time, he said the third problem is by pulling the carrier, the South China Sea and the Western Pacific will be uncovered by a U.S. carrier for the first time since 2003, which opens the door to China.
“I will just add that the biggest long-term problem, beyond terrorists reestablishing a platform for a potential 9/11 again, and let’s pray that we never have that again, but that is what happens when the terrorists controlled Afghanistan. The last big issue is you let China move in, which they are planning to do, they are already working with the Taliban to control about $3 trillion worth of minerals, including 17 rare earths that are in Afghanistan,” he explained.
“It’s sort of a public relations disaster, a physical security disaster, and a foreign-policy disaster. I would argue that they didn’t really think this through,” Charles concluded. “The notion of pulling out on or by 9/11 seems like irony. 9/11 was a formidable life-changing event for the United States, the last thing we want to do is open the door to terrorists in China commensurate with that anniversary.”
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