The United States confirms its withdrawal from Afghanistan’s largest airbase, Bagram, said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
“The changed command structure and today’s transfer of Bagram airbase to Afghan security forces are key milestones in our withdrawal process, reflecting the diminished US presence in Afghanistan,” Kirby said at the briefing.
Earlier, the US withdrawal was confirmed by the Afghan authorities and the Taliban.
The Bagram base is located north of Kabul. It was used by Soviet troops during the 1979-1989 Afghan War, and after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, it became the main base of American forces.
Kirby also announced the change of command of American troops in Afghanistan.
“The Secretary of Defense (Lloyd Austin) today approved a plan to transfer command of our mission in Afghanistan from General Scott Miller to General Frank Mackenzie,” Kirby said at the briefing.
He did not say what caused the change of command, but said it was a “key milestone” in the transition to a smaller presence in Afghanistan. The United States has pledged to withdraw its troops from that country before 9/11.
Two new administrative units are also being created – one in Kabul under the command of Rear Admiral Peter Weisley, the other in Qatar under the command of Brigadier General Curtis Buzzard, they will deal with countering terrorism and supporting the Afghan security forces. In addition, the protection of the US diplomatic mission in Kabul and the airport of the Afghan capital will remain in the sphere of responsibility of the US military in Afghanistan.
Kirby clarified that Miller will remain in the region for now and will prepare the transfer of affairs to Mackenzie, who heads US Central Command.
The Pentagon spokesman did not answer the question of journalists whether Miller will soon go to Tajikistan, neighboring Afghanistan, on whose borders the Taliban have appeared, but said that some trips for General Miller are probably planned.