The full withdrawal of US troops from the country is not complete yet but expected very soon
Nearly two decades after the first American troops arrived at Bagram and helped take control of the field after the 9/11 attacks, the transfer of the field to the Afghan military proceeded without fanfare, a hushed finale that portends the imminent conclusion of America's longest war
Once a dilapidated runway that barely had electricity in the surrounding buildings, the airfield became a small city in its own right, complete with shops, gyms, and classrooms for the thousands of servicemembers and contractors who worked at the base and its facilities.
The two-mile runway, streaked with the dark black tire marks of countless takeoffs and landings, was the jumping off point for military operations throughout the country, with space for cargo aircraft, fighter jets, and attack helicopters. Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump all visited Bagram during their time in office, promising victory and a better future for Afghanistan.
Bagram was officially handed over to the Afghan military Friday, Rohullah Ahamadzai, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense told CNN.
But the withdrawal from Bagram, devoid of any pomp and ceremony, is a symbolic victory for the Taliban, who have waged a relentless cross-country battle against the Afghan military, pushing back government forces and overrunning a growing number of districts.
A Taliban spokesman called the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan a "positive step."
"The presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan was a reason for continuation of fighting in the country," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid told CNN Friday. "If foreign forces leave Afghanistan, Afghans can decide future issues among themselves. We will step forward for the security of the country and our hope for the peace would increase and inshallah we will have development."
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Afghan Minister of Defense Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, saying the United States was invested in the "security and stability of Afghanistan" as the withdrawal neared its completion.
Bagram was the entry point for tens of thousands of troops who came into the country as part of the War on Terror, and it was the exit point for many of the nearly 2,000 US servicemembers killed in action during 20 years of fighting. Troops stood on the main road through the airbase, known as Disney Drive, as the flag-draped coffins of servicemembers killed in Afghanistan drove past on their way to the flight line for their final journey home