Months After US Exits, the Tale of Afghan Base in Ruin

Combat base falling apart just months after handover
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2012 8:21 AM CDT
Months After US Exits, the Tale of Afghan Base in Ruin
Afghan National Army soldiers walk to an outpost in eastern Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

One of the first American bases to be handed over to Afghan control is falling apart, in what some fear signals the future of the rest of the country, the Washington Post finds. Combat Outpost Conlon, in a Taliban stronghold 50 miles from Kabul, was handed over less than six months ago. But the 240 Afghan soldiers there now squeak by with just three hours of electricity a day; they have almost no working vehicles left and lack the night-vision goggles to carry out night patrols. Lacking fuel to run the base's radio tower, they use cellphones to communicate despite knowing that the Taliban is listening in.

Commanders say that now that the Americans are gone, their troops lack the equipment and expertise to take on the Taliban, who have become stronger in the area since the US departure. "They’ve just never had to rely on their own leaders. They’ve always had the Americans for a backstop," says the chief of the US advisory team overseeing Afghan units in the province, likening Afghan soldiers to children. "Sometimes it takes a hard lesson for them to learn," he says. (More Afghanistan stories.)

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