AP Photo/Rahmat Gul
The U.S. left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield after nearly 20 years by shutting off the electricity and slipping away in the night without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander, who discovered the Americans’ departure more than two hours after they left…
Afghanistan’s army showed off the sprawling air base Monday, providing a rare first glimpse of what had been the epicenter of America’s war to unseat the Taliban and hunt down the al-Qaida perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks on America…
“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.
On display on Monday was a massive facility, the size of a small city, that had been exclusively used by the U.S. and NATO. The sheer size is extraordinary, with roadways weaving through barracks and past hangar-like buildings. There are two runways and over 100 parking spots for fighter jets…
Kohistani said the U.S. left behind 3.5 million items, all itemized by the departing U.S. military. They include tens of thousands of bottles of water, energy drinks and military ready-made meals, known as MRE’s…
The big ticket items left behind include thousands of civilian vehicles, many of them without keys to start them, and hundreds of armored vehicles. Kohistani said the U.S. also left behind small weapons and the ammunition for them, but the departing troops took heavy weapons with them. Ammunition for weapons not being left behind for the Afghan military was blown up before they left.
Nothing much to add to previous analysis/remarks. Our heroes in DC, in Congress, the White House, accomplished not much of note since our invasion after 9/11. Nothing that will benefit the Afghans who cooperated with our invading military.
In recent weeks, the Taliban is bolder than ever, retaking territory, winning battles whenever they find someone who prefers to fight rather than skip over one or another border to comparative safety. No blame IMHO for dudes who’d rather skip out on the brass hats who made a bunch of extra coin off Uncle Sugar and American taxpayers. Isn’t that part of what the Pentagon is for?
As the U.S. exits Afghanistan, Beijing is preparing to swoop into the war-torn country and fill the vacuum left by the departed U.S. and NATO troops.
China is poised to make an exclusive entry into post-U.S. Afghanistan with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source close to government officials in Afghanistan told The Daily Beast that Kabul authorities are growing more intensively engaged with China on an extension of the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — the flagship project of BRI, which involves the construction of highways, railways and energy pipelines between Pakistan and China — to Afghanistan…
In other words: The Afghan government, behind the scenes, is welcoming China immediately after saying goodbye to America.
Yup. All part of an obviously subversive plot. Here’s Uncle Sugar finishing decades of superb foreign policy – stationing tens of thousands of American troops in yet one more small nation to show off the benefits of American democracy [and military hardware]. We’re going out the door. Meanwhile, the “subversive” Chinese and their Pakistani allies in the Belt-and-Road Initiative are actually going to build highways, railways and energy pipelines – making the country a key link in East/West infrastructure. And profits.
Stars and Stripes
The United States spent more than $2 billion since 2008 on buildings and vehicles in Afghanistan that are now either in disrepair, not being used as intended or completely unusable, according to a recent review by a government oversight group…
“Of the nearly $7.8 billion in capital assets reviewed in its prior reports, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction…SIGAR identified about $2.4 billion in assets that were unused or abandoned, had not been used for their intended purposes, had deteriorated, or were destroyed,” the report said…
I doubt there is any branch of the United States government that can waste more money than our military. There probably is a secret department in the Pentagon set aside just for the creation of excuses for mismanagement and cost overruns.
Since 2016, we’ve increased airstrikes as much as 780% though combat operations in Afghanistan officially ended in December 2014…
US Air Force
US and coalition combat operations in Afghanistan officially ended in December 2014, and the numbers of CFACC-controlled airstrikes dropped from 2,365 for that year to just 947 in 2015 (the lowest figure recorded since 2009). The strike rate began to rapidly rise again in 2016 with 1,337 recorded, and rose again in 2017 with 4,361. It rose markedly again in 2018 with 7,362, before peaking at 7,423 in 2019.
Gee, what might have happened in 2016 to spark increased bombing of one of those little nations on our kill-list? Hmm?
BTW, there aren’t any more “coalition” forces operating over Afghanistan. It’s all our military, folks.
❝ Kathleen Thomas grimly recalls the day when a US warplane flew over in Afghanistan and bombed her intensive care unit.
A survivor of the attack – which killed 42 and wounded dozens of others in the northern city of Kunduz – Thomas recounted seeing patients trapped in their hospital beds and engulfed in flames.
“The strikes tore through the outpatients department, which had become a sleeping area for staff. Our colleagues didn’t die peacefully like in the movies,” Thomas said.
“They died painfully, slowly, some of them screaming out for help that never came, alone and terrified, knowing the extent of their own injuries and aware of their impending death. It was a scene of nightmarish horror that will be forever etched in my mind…”
❝ The account is part of Thomas’ public testimony released recently by Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The international medical charity operated the hospital in Kunduz that was flattened by a US air strike last October.
Seven months since the deadly attack, survivors and family members of victims have struggled for an elusive justice that may never come. Even though the US government has disciplined more than a dozen personnel, it has still skirted an independent investigation into the air strike, described by MSF as a “war crime”.
❝ …US actions have sowed fears among human rights activists and advocacy groups that the entrenched pattern of bombing hospitals by “mistake” – in the words of the US government – would leave health facilities in conflict zones even more vulnerable.
“We run the risk of getting used to these [unacceptable attacks] when actually our tolerance ratio should be zero,” Roman Oyarzun Marchesi, the permanent representative of Spain to the United Nations, said at a recent policy forum on attacks on healthcare facilities in armed conflict.
“Wars may be inevitable, but there are rules to follow,” Marchesi said. “Respecting international humanitarian law is not only a matter of life and death; it is humanity itself that’s at stake here.”
RTFA if you’re not already familiar with the details of this atrocity. The Pentagon “investigation” is a farce – as you would expect. The history of official government studies of their own war crimes is absurd to begin with.
An independent commission is needed. The power to bring the guilty to justice is a necessity. For once, the United States government must end the perpetual systematic coverups of “accidental” murder of civilians.
❝In 2007, shortly after vice-president Joe Biden learned that his eldest son would be deployed to Iraq, the then-presidential hopeful turned to a modest crowd at the Iowa state fair and admitted that he didn’t want Beau to go. “But I tell you what,” he said, his family lined up behind him. “I don’t want my grandson or my granddaughters going back in 15 years and so how we leave makes a big difference.”
Beau arrived in Iraq the following year, and spent the next several months serving as a Jag officer at Camp Victory, just outside of the Baghdad airport, and Joint Base Balad, nearly 40 miles north of Baghdad. Though he returned home safely in September 2009, he woke up one day a few months later with an inexplicable headache, numbness in his limbs and paralysis on one side of his body. Beau had suffered a mild stroke. His health deteriorated, and he was diagnosed with brain cancer. Less than two years later, he died at the age of 46.
❝Though the underlying cause of Beau’s cancer cannot be confirmed, evidence gathered in a new book out Tuesday suggests a possible link between his illness and service. Based on clusters of similar cases, scientific studies and expert opinions, author Joseph Hickman proposes in The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers that US service members in Iraq and Afghanistan confronted more than one unexpected enemy that followed them home. Many soldiers complain of respiratory issues relating to their burn pit exposure. But others likely developed more life-threatening conditions such as cancers, Hickman contends, because of what the burn pits were built on top of: the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons program.
❝From the moment the US launched its campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Pentagon ordered the use of open-air burn pits to dispose of the wars’ massive volume of waste. The military relied heavily upon these sprawling ditches, which burned around the clock to consume the tens or even hundreds of tons of junk generated daily. By May 2003, according to Hickman, there were more than 250 burn pits at US bases peppered across the two nations.
❝The Department of Defense has long recognized that burn pits pose a substantial danger, especially to the environment. Waste management guidance in 1978, for instance, said that solid waste should not be burned in an open pit if an alternative is available, like incinerators. But the department charged ahead anyway and hired contractors like Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR) to manage the pits. And up until 2009, the military didn’t have comprehensive standards in place governing what could or could not be burned…
❝“I’ll never forget the smell of burning shit,” said Marcus Hill, a retired US army sergeant who served in Balad between 2004 and 2007. But that was the least of his concerns. Among the other hazardous items service members recall being burned are: petroleum, oil, rubber, tires, plastic, styrofoam, batteries, appliances, electrical equipment, pesticides, aerosol cans, oil, explosives, casings, medical waste and animal and human carcasses. They also used jet fuel to stoke the fire.
These materials converged in a toxic plume that hovered over the base, and seeped into soldiers’ sleeping and working quarters, which were often a mile or less away. “Sometimes the smoke was so dense that you could breath it in and back out again, kind of like smoking a cigar,” said Hill. But for Hill and many others, the hazy cocktail didn’t initially register as a threat. “After being blown up a couple of times, you didn’t complain about stuff like that. It wasn’t a big deal,” he said. “It was part of our mission and we were told not to worry about it.”
As with Agent Orange in VietNam, the Pentagon, military branches and our government alike have maintained a policy of ignoring and disavowing responsibility for the death and destruction not caused by direct assault. That’s more than hypocrisy. It’s a deliberate policy choice. Not at all dissimilar from decisions made to carpet-bomb whole villages, incendiary air raids on cities full of civilians, demonstrate the genocidal potential of nuclear weapons on civilian populations.
We’ve just added the maiming and death of our own forces to the sum of thoughtless murder.
❝With Washington set to send billions of dollars in fresh aid to Afghanistan despite the military drawdown, the U.S. official in charge of auditing assistance programs says “it’s not too late” to address the fraud and mismanagement that has bedeviled the 14-year effort to rebuild the country.
The military intervention launched after the Sept. 11 attacks has cost the United States $1 trillion, including some $110 billion in aid aimed at rebuilding one of the poorest, most violent and most corrupt countries on earth. To this day Afghanistan relies on foreign aid as it battles an increasingly potent Taliban insurgency.
But John Sopko, who has spent more than three years probing U.S.-funded projects as the special investigator general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said the U.S. government is partly to blame for the misused funds.
❝“What I’m identifying are not just Afghan or Afghan-related problems, they are problems with the way the United States government operates,” he said.
He said the Pentagon and the U.S. Agency for International Development suffer from corruption as well as poor planning, oversight and accountability. He said they often fail to coordinate with one another or measure programs’ effectiveness…
❝Since it was created in 2008, SIGAR has identified more than $1 billion in potential savings to U.S. taxpayers and published hundreds of reports, including 50 audits of reconstruction projects.
“The money that’s been wasted has been wasted,” Sopko said. “But we have still got $10 billion that has been authorized, appropriated but not yet spent. And we’re probably going to put in $6 billion to $10 billion a year, for years to come — because if we don’t, the Afghan government will collapse.”…
❝Sopko said it’s time to “hit the reset button and take a look at what worked and what didn’t work.”
❝The biggest failure of the reconstruction effort, he said, was the outlay of nearly $8 billion since 2001 to eradicate poppies, the main ingredient in heroin and Afghanistan’s chief export. The crop is worth some $3 billion a year and is a key source of income for the Taliban…
SIGAR found last year that the U.S. had spent $7.6 billion on counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan since 2001. Opium production has dropped by 50 percent this year, not because of eradication efforts, but because of drought, pests and other environmental factors, Sopko said.
“Any metrics you give — price, purity, addiction rates, production — the only improvements we have seen have been caused by Mother Nature,” he said.
BTW, Lindsay Graham and John McCain, two of our most backwards Republican warhawks have just proposed that everything we did in Afghanistan and Iraq – should now be done in Syria. Starting with sending in 20,000 American soldiers.
These stupid little minds who bear a significant portion of responsibility for helping an ignoranus like George W. Bush get us into this mess – would perpetuate the same bureaucratic farce, the same incompetence that eight years of Obama hasn’t turned around – all in the name of protecting the United States.
The nation where self-proclaimed good Christians with guns have killed more people than any foreign terrorist cabal.
The U.S. Department of Defense spent an estimated $43 million to build a single gas station in Afghanistan, the federal government’s oversight authority for reconstruction in the Central Asian country said Monday. The revelation marks the latest example of alleged overspending identified by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction…
SIGAR’s report called the plan to build a compressed natural gas (CNG) filling station in the small northern Afghan city of Sheberghan “ill-conceived,” and said it came at an “exorbitant cost to U.S. taxpayers.” The report noted that the gas station should have cost roughly $500,000…
The Department of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Al Jazeera…
“One of the most troubling aspects of this project is that the Department of Defense claims that it is unable to provide an explanation for the high cost the project or to answer any other questions concerning its planning, implementation or outcome,” Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko said in a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter that accompanied the report.
Read the whole report [.pdf] if you feel like getting pissed off over millions of taxpayer dollars wasted, stolen, and misused. In a war that accomplished nothing other than decades of enmity and agony to come. A present from conservatives and cowards in Congress and the White House.