Looters Ransack Bagram Air Base After American Troops Hand It Over to Local Afghan Forces

Looters Ransack Bagram Air Base After American Troops Hand It Over to Local Afghan Forces

Looters ransacked an air base in Afghanistan after the United States military handed control of it over to the Afghan government on Friday, according to reports.

Afghan locals then started hawking items stolen from the base, including basketballs, stereo speakers, laptop computers, bicycles, helmets, desk fans, guitars, and anything else looters procured, according to the Daily Mail.

The U.S. military vacated the base on Friday, after occupying the eastern Afghanistan base for nearly 20 years during the Afghanistan War. Afghan military officials reportedly said U.S. forces left in the dead of the night without notifying them.

The U.S. military is leaving Afghanistan, after former President Donald Trump began a drawdown of forces in 2020 and President Joe Biden decided to continue it.

Biden has given the U.S. military a deadline of September 11, but the Pentagon said the drawdown will occur much earlier — some time in August. The U.S. is planning to leave a force of about 650 troops to protect its embassy in Kabul.

According to reports, the U.S. military also left a fleet of sport utility trucks and mine-resistant vehicles at Bagram.

The base is now under Afghan government control, with hundreds of Afghan forces now living in its barracks. However, the looting took place before the Afghan forces could move in. American forces also reportedly left behind water, food, small weapons, and ammunition.

The air base was first built by the Soviet Union in the 1950s. Soviet forces withdrew from the country in 1989. After U.S. forces invaded in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks planned from within Afghanistan’s borders, U.S. military forces occupied the base.

At the war’s peak in 2012, there were more than 100,000 U.S. and NATO troops passing through the base, with a peak of 130,000 coalition forces throughout the country.

Defense officials say the U.S. military will maintain an “over-the-horizon” strike capability to target terrorists if they threaten the homeland.

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Kristina Wong