BAGRAM: The US departed from the Bagram airfield in Afghanistan quietly at night without notifying the new commander, who discovered the exit two hours after the US left, say Afghan military officials.
The United States Department of Defence announced Friday that they had completely vacated their biggest airfield in Bagram, Afghanistan, before a complete withdrawal scheduled for August this year.
This airfield in Bagram was the American epicentre in the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The airfield faced a blackout 20 minutes after the American troops departed, ABC News reported. This allowed looters to ransack the buildings, taking anything up for grabs.
“We (heard) some rumor that the Americans had left Bagram ... finally by seven o'clock in the morning, it was confirmed that they had already left Bagram," said Gen. Mir Asadullah Kohistani, Bagram's new commander.
America’s departure 20 years later without informing the Afghan officials has left many Afghan soldiers with a sense of abandonment.
The U.S military spokesmen did not comment on the hasty and quiet leave from the Bagram airfield.
Last week, however, U.S military spokesperson Col Sonny Leggett said the handover of many Afghan bases was underway since President Joe Biden's announcement of US withdrawal in Afghanistan. The statement also added that the departure was coordinated with Afghan leaders.
Afghanistan has seen a surge in Taliban activity and many districts in Northern Afghanistan have fell into their control. This surge in Taliban activity comes as NATO and the US troops withdraw from Afghanistan. Most of the US soldiers have left and the rest will leave once a protection agreement on Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport with Turkey is reached.
Inside the Bagram airfieldAfghan military allowed a glimpse into the airbase on Monday for the first time.
The facility, the size of a small city, consisted of roadways weaving through barracks and hangar-like buildings. The base has two runways and over 100 parking spots for fighter jets with blast walls to protect the aircraft. The facility also includes a passenger lounge, a 50-bed hospital, and a giant hangar filled with supplies.
The U.S left behind 3.5 million items which include tens of thousands of water bottles, energy drinks, and military-ready meals (MREs), all itemized by the U.S military.
The airbase also includes a prison with 5,000 inmates, many of them allegedly Taliban.
Some of the more advanced items include thousands of civilian vehicles without keys and hundreds of armored vehicles.
American troops took heavy weapons with them and blew up the ammunition before they left.
Kohistani says the 20 years of NATO and the US in Afghanistan are appreciated, but that it is now time for the Afghans to step up.
“We have to solve our problem,” the new Afghan commander of Bagram said. "We have to secure our country and once again build our country with our own hands.”