After reading this question and the associated comments, I was left wondering: For what reasons did the US choose to completely hand over Bagram Air Base to the Afghan Security Forces? Was it primarily a political decision, and/or what are the other major/minor factors involved?

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    Are you asking why the U.S. chose to sign an agreement calling for an exit from Afghanistan, or why the Bagram Air Base was abandoned before the evacuation was complete (leaving only Kabul airport?) Aug 28, 2021 at 14:24
  • Ah, the former. Why was leaving the base part of the deal for leaving the country? The second question is regarding the strategy of evacuation, which I didn't intend to be in the scope of my question.
    – minsalty
    Aug 28, 2021 at 22:53
  • iirc the first major escalation in deployment to Vietnam was because an airbase had to be defended from attack
    – user10094
    Aug 28, 2021 at 23:05

1 Answer 1

  • It was a Taliban demand that the US vacate all their bases in Afghanistan. So these were passed over to the Afghan Republic, sometimes with little protocol, in the case of Bagram, in particular. In return, the Taliban only promised not to attack US forces during their withdrawal, a promise that was basically kept. (The Taliban also demanded the withdrawal of all US/Western contractors from the country, actually all "non-diplomatic civilian [US] personnel". Reportedly some 18,000 contractors left (6,000 Americans), in addition to the troops. The Afghan Republic was also not officially part of the US-Taliban negotiations, they just had to accept the results. The Taliban's negotiating strategy was simply to refuse talks with the Afghan Republic representatives.)

  • Bringing only some of the troops home would have been [more] dissonant with the campaign promise to "end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East”.

  • The US still has some "over-the-horizon" counter-terrorism capabilities in the country, which may indeed be enough to deal with [more] isolated threats like the IS-K, e.g. in the aftermath of the Kabul airport bombing. (This counter-strike was reportedly conducted by a Reaper drone launched from a Middle East base.)

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    The contractor bit is interesting as, apparently, they were the guys keeping ANA technical assets like aircraft operational. On the one hand, taking them out collapsed the ANA's air capability. On the other hand, keeping a bunch of non-military US citizens in country after US withdrawal would be both risky politically for the US. And, essentially, a very shady dip into mercenary territory, with no real reason for the Taliban to treat them well if they were captured (shades of enemy combatants) Aug 28, 2021 at 17:39
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    i.e. not transferring (early on - it takes years) that competency to Afghan locals might have been one of the bigger mistakes of the US policy in Afghanistan when pursuing Afghanization (see Vietnamization for why I use this term) Aug 28, 2021 at 17:40
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    As a political sell, it seems that "ending forever wars" could entail keeping control of the base. After all, the us has other bases in various countries in which it used to be at war, though I can't say I know the history of which bases stay and which bases go.
    – minsalty
    Aug 28, 2021 at 23:00

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