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PHOTOS: US troops left behind everything from energy drinks to armored vehicles when they abandoned a key base in Afghanistan in the dead of night

Business Insider logo Business Insider 7/6/2021 rpickrell@businessinsider.com (Ryan Pickrell)
a plane with a mountain in the background: An Afghan helicopter taking off in the Bagram air base following the departure of US forces. Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images © WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images An Afghan helicopter taking off in the Bagram air base following the departure of US forces. Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images
  • US forces departed Bagram Airfield, a major base in Afghanistan, at 3 a.m. on Friday.
  • They left behind numerous items, from energy drinks and MREs to armored vehicles, the AP reported.
  • When US forces left, they cut off the power. Then looters rolled in, grabbing what they could.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

When US forces pulled out of Bagram Airfield, a strategic air base in Afghanistan, in the middle of the night last week, they left behind a lot of things, from bottles of water and energy drinks to civilian and armored vehicles, an Afghan general told The Associated Press.

The US military withdrawal from Afghanistan is 90% complete, US Central Command announced Tuesday. Bagram was the seventh facility the US military has transferred to the Afghan security forces.

The command said 984 C-17 transport aircraft loads of materials have been flown out of the country. Over 17,000 pieces of equipment have been destroyed. And some other supplies have been purposefully transferred to the Afghans.

But given the rushed nature of the withdrawal, expected to be largely complete by the end of August, it seems like some things are simply getting left behind.

a person standing in a room: A member of the Afghan security forces standing amid things left behind by the US forces that departed Bagram. Rahmat Gul/AP Photo © AP Photo/Rahmat Gul A member of the Afghan security forces standing amid things left behind by the US forces that departed Bagram. Rahmat Gul/AP Photo

Bagram's new Afghan commander, Gen. Mir Asadullah Kohistani, told the BBC that US troops left Bagram Airfield at around 3 a.m. last Friday. US and partner forces have continuously occupied the base since it was captured during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

US forces reportedly left without telling Kohistani, who claimed he did not even know the American troops were gone until hours after their departure. The US military says that it coordinated the withdrawal with Afghan leadership, but the exact hour of departure was not discussed due to operational security concerns.

Kohistani told the AP that US forces left behind some 3.5 million items, some larger than others. That list included things like phones and building materials like doors, doorknobs, and windows.

a group of stuffed animals sitting on top of a building: An Afghan soldier playing a guitar that was left behind after US troops departed Bagram. Rahmat Gul/AP Photo © AP Photo/Rahmat Gul An Afghan soldier playing a guitar that was left behind after US troops departed Bagram. Rahmat Gul/AP Photo

Among the things the US military left were tens of thousands of bottles of water and energy drinks, as well as meals ready-to-eat, or MREs, the AP reported. There were also some personal items, like a guitar.

a car parked in a parking lot full of cars: Vehicles that were left after the US forces left Bagram Airfield. Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images © Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Vehicles that were left after the US forces left Bagram Airfield. Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Troops left thousands of civilian vehicles, including many that no longer had keys, and hundreds of armored military vehicles, such as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs.

a person in a military vehicle: An Afghan soldier walking past Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, that were left at Bagram. Rahmat Gul/AP Photo © AP Photo/Rahmat Gul An Afghan soldier walking past Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, that were left at Bagram. Rahmat Gul/AP Photo

US forces also left some ammunition and weaponry, though most of the heavy weapons were taken by the departing troops or destroyed, the AP reported. The Pentagon acknowledged that some vehicles were left but denied that weapons had been left behind.

Scrap left after the US forces left Bagram. Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images © Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Scrap left after the US forces left Bagram. Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

When US forces left Bagram, they shut off the power to the base. In the darkness in the dead of night, looters rolled in, grabbing anything and everything, from used laptops to gas canisters. Some Afghans who got their hands on the gear have been seen selling secondhand US military equipment.

The AP reported that on Monday, Afghan soldiers at Bagram Airfield were seen cleaning up trash left by the looters.

An Afghan man rests in his shop on Monday as he sell US secondhand materials outside Bagram. Mohammad Ismail/Reuters © REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail An Afghan man rests in his shop on Monday as he sell US secondhand materials outside Bagram. Mohammad Ismail/Reuters

As the US withdraws its forces - sometimes in a manner that appears at odds with the "orderly and safe" departure the Pentagon has said it seeks - Taliban insurgents have been gaining ground, especially in parts of northern Afghanistan.

"You look at the security situation, it's not good. The Afghans recognize it's not good. The Taliban are on the move. We're starting to create conditions here that won't look good for Afghanistan in the future if there's a push for a military takeover," Gen. Scott Miller, the top US general in Afghanistan, said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

a man wearing a military uniform: An Afghan soldier stands watch at Bagram after the departure of US forces. Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images © Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images An Afghan soldier stands watch at Bagram after the departure of US forces. Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

"We should be concerned," he said, adding that he fears that people will lose hope and accept that the collapse of the Afghan government is a foregone conclusion.

Some intelligence assessments have suggested the Afghan government could fall within six to 12 months of the withdrawal of US forces, but both US President Joe Biden and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani have pushed back on these assessments.

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