The twisted remains of several all-terrain vehicles leaned precariously inside Baba Mir’s scrap yard, alongside smashed shards that were once generators, tank tracks that have been dismantled into chunks of metal, and mountains of tents reduced to sliced up fabric. It’s all US military equipment, per the AP. The Americans are dismantling their portion of nearby Bagram Air Base, their largest remaining outpost in Afghanistan, and anything that is not being taken home or given to the Afghan military is being destroyed as completely as possible, even small outposts are being dismantled or reduced to rubble. They do so as a security measure, to ensure equipment doesn’t fall into the hands of militants. But Mir and the dozens of other scrap sellers around Bagram see it as an infuriating waste. “Like they have destroyed this vehicle, they have destroyed us,” he said.
As the last US and NATO troops leave, ending their 20-year war in Afghanistan, they are packing up bases around the country. They leave behind a population where many are frustrated and angry. The Afghans feel abandoned to a legacy they blame at least in part on the Americans—a deeply corrupt US-backed government and growing instability that could burst into brutal new phase of civil war. At Bagram, northwest of the capital of Kabul, and other bases, US forces are taking stock of equipment to be returned to America. Most of what is being shipped home is sensitive equipment never intended to be left behind. Sadat, another junk dealer in Bagram who gave only one name, says other scrap yards around the country are crammed with ruined US equipment. “They left us nothing,” he said. “They have destroyed our country. They are giving us only destruction.” (Read more Afghanistan war stories.)