The Americans are leaving Camp Leatherneck today. In a formal handover of the base they share with British troops, the last U.S. Marine battalion in Afghanistan turned the complex over to Afghan forces and began the process of heading home. The coalition base in southern Helmand Province was first established nearly six years ago.
For Britain, the day brought an end to 13 years of military operations in Afghanistan.
NPR’s Sean Carberry describes the scene at the base:
“The U.S., U.K. and NATO flags are lowered at Camps Leatherneck and Bastion. As ceremonial music plays, dozens of Marines, British troops, and Afghan soldiers stand at attention.
” ‘This transfer is a sign of progress,’ says Brigadier. Gen. Daniel Yoo, part of the Marine unit that stormed southern Afghanistan in 2001. Today, he’s closing down the last Marine mission in Afghanistan.
Afghan Army Gen. Cher Mohammed Karimi says he appreciates the work of NATO forces, and ‘their sacrifices here, in the toughest area of Afghanistan.’
“Helmand continues to be one of the most violent provinces in Afghanistan. More than 350 Marines and 400 British forces have died here. And more than 700 Afghan forces have been killed in Helmand just this year.”