/U.S. Leaves Its Last Afghan Base, Effectively Ending Operations – The New York Times

U.S. Leaves Its Last Afghan Base, Effectively Ending Operations – The New York Times

Other foreign forces that helped guard the base as part of the U.S.-led coalition, like those from Georgia and the Czech Republic, saw their own casualties during their deployments.

In 2014, as the United States concluded its first official drawdown after the surge of troops in the years before — which brought the number of American and other international forces into the country to well over 100,000 — Bagram began to shrink.

Local contractors were fired, troops left and the surrounding town of the same name went into a downward economic spiral. Many residents had been reliant on the base for employment, and others had sorted through the camp’s refuse for goods that could be sold or shipped to Kabul.

Bagram was operating at full capacity until the end on Thursday. Fighter jets, cargo planes and surveillance aircraft relied on the twin runways until it was no longer feasible to keep them in the country.

Now, air support for the Afghan forces and overhead surveillance will be flown in from outside the country, from bases in Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, or from an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea, in missions known colloquially as “over the horizon.” How long that type of support will continue is unclear, but the Pentagon has until Sept. 11 — when the American military mission is supposed to formally conclude — to decide.

With Bagram gone, what is left of the American forces in the country remain in Kabul. After General Miller leaves in the next several days, his authorities to carry out airstrikes against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, and, in very limited circumstances, against the Taliban, will be assumed by Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the military’s Central Command.

Rear Adm. Peter G. Vasely, a former member of SEAL Team 6, will be in charge of the security mission at the United States Embassy in Kabul, and will report to General McKenzie. Admiral Vasely, who is already in Kabul for the transition, will command the American troops that will be largely based at the embassy and remain there indefinitely.

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