U.S. combat forces are in the process of the ultimate draw down in Afghanistan; with a complete exit of American combat troops by the end of 2016. Yesterday, in a 20 hour-long ceremony, the United States and British commanders cased colors, officially turned over Camp Leatherneck to Afghan forces, and began the long road home.
According to the Washington Post, U.S. C-130s flew into Camp Leatherneck around dusk Sunday night to fly remaining American supplies out of the country. Soldiers burned paperwork and uniforms and other items they don’t want in the hands of the Taliban.
Some large U.S. military equipment and vehicles have been sold to other countries, for pennies on the dollar. Even knowing that the terrorist group ISIS/ISIL has commandeered military equipment left behind in Iraq can’t make the U.S. bring home some 850 MRAPs and over $6 billion of other military and non-military gear. Most of it will be scrapped on-site or left to decay. Sadly, what can never be brought home is the blood of dozens of Americans killed in Helmand Province, most of them U.S. Marines.
After thirteen years of NATO troops doing battle with the Taliban, the warring tribes of Afghanistan will do what they have done since before Alexander the Great tried to conquer the region, they will fight. They will fight multiple factions of terrorist groups, they will fight outsiders, and they will fight each other. And after years of agribusiness instruction from the United States and other nations, Afghan farmers will continue to grow enough opium to supply the world.
The large combined bases of Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion will be now operated by a country that shuns education, has almost no healthcare or a common language. The bulk of Afghan fighting forces are Tajik and Uzbek, neither of which have “any skin in the game” except for a paycheck.
When the last of the NATO troops leave Afghanistan, the country will go back to how it was before those forces arrived, with a few more mortars in the fields. But it will never be business as usual for the NATO families who have buried sons and daughters and who still treat the sick and wounded from the war.
Afghanistan: Camp Leatherneck-Camp Bastion is all yours now; use the resource wisely, no one wants to come back.
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