450 Bases and it's Not Over Yet: The Pentagon’s Plans for Prisons, Drones, and Black Ops in Afghanistan
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There’s little doubt Bagram Air Base will exist in five or 10 years. Just who will be occupying it is, however, less clear. After all, in Iraq, the Obama administration negotiated for some way to station a significant military force -- 10,000 or more troops -- there beyond a withdrawal date that had been set in stone for years. While a token number of U.S. troops and a highly militarized State Department contingent remain there, the Iraqi government largely thwarted the American efforts -- and now, even the State Department presence is being halved.
It’s less likely this will be the case in Afghanistan, but it remains possible. Still, it’s clear that the military is building in that country as if an enduring American presence were a given. Whatever the outcome, vestiges of the current base-building boom will endure and become part of America’s Afghan legacy.
On Bagram’s grounds stands a distinctive structure called the “Crow’s Nest.” It’s an old control tower built by the Soviets to coordinate their military operations in Afghanistan. That foreign force left the country in 1989. The Soviet Union itself departed from the planet less than three years later. The tower remains.
America’s new prison in Bagram will undoubtedly remain, too. Just who the jailers will be and who will be locked inside five years or 10 years from now is, of course, unknown. But given the history -- marked by torture and deaths -- of the appalling treatment of inmates at Bagram and, more generally, of the brutality toward prisoners by all parties to the conflict over the years, in no scenario are the results likely to be pretty.