Afghan military officials told The Associated Press that the U.S. left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield in the middle of the night without notifying its new commander.
U.S. forces reportedly left the site, from which they have fought the war in Afghanistan for the past 20 years, and shut off the electricity on Friday. Afghan officials did not discover the departure until more than two hours later, the AP reported.
“We [heard] some rumor that the Americans had left Bagram ... and finally by seven o’clock in the morning, we understood that it was confirmed that they had already left Bagram,” Gen. Mir Asadullah Kohistani, Bagram's new commander, said, according to the news service.
Before Afghan forces could assume control, looters reportedly ransacked the base before being forced out.
“At first we thought maybe they were Taliban,” Abdul Raouf, a soldier of 10 years, told the AP. According to Raouf, the U.S. called from the Kabul airport and said, "We are here at the airport in Kabul.”
The AP reports that Afghan soldiers were highly critical of how the U.S. left the base in the middle of the night without informing Afghan forces.
“In one night, they lost all the goodwill of 20 years by leaving the way they did, in the night, without telling the Afghan soldiers who were outside patrolling the area,” one soldier named Naematullah told the news service.
Kohistani stated, however, that the past 20 years of U.S. and NATO involvement in Afghanistan was appreciated. But the general said it was now time for Afghans to step up, according to the AP.
“We have to solve our problem. We have to secure our country and once again build our country with our own hands,” Kohistani said.