A gray American transport plane taxied down the runway, carrying munitions, a giant flat screen television from a CIA base, pallets of equipment and departing troops. It was one of several aircraft that night removing what remained of the American War from this sprawling military base in the country’s south.
President Joe Biden has said that the United States will withdraw from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, ending the country’s longest war on foreign soil — but the pullout has already begun.
The United States and its NATO allies spent decades building Kandahar Airfield into a wartime city, filled with tents, operations centers, barracks, basketball courts, ammunition storage sites, aircraft hangars and at least one post office.
Once the base is stripped of everything deemed sensitive by its American and NATO landlords, its skeleton will be handed over to the Afghan security forces. And the message will be clear: They are on their own in the fight against the Taliban.
The scenes over the weekend were almost as if a trillion-dollar war machine had morphed into a garage sale.