Less than a month after 9/11, the US organized a coalition of armed forces and invaded Afghanistan in October 2001. What began as a “modest war” changed into a long lasting and costly operation, called Operation Enduring Freedom. Tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians have lost their lives in the war.

Now, the US military is left with less than two years to complete its new top-mission in Afghanistan. These so-called retrograde operations entail the logistical mission of sorting, consolidating and moving equipment out of the country that has accumulated during eleven years of American combat operations. 

At Bagram Airbase, military equipment is brought in from bases in eastern Afghanistan. Thousands of pieces of equipment, including cables, repair parts and just simple junk are stacked in yards with many thousands more scattered among other bases. An estimated equivalent of 90,000 twenty-foot containers of equipment is spread throughout the country, and much of it will have to be shipped back to the U.S. or other logistical hubs throughout the world. 

Meanwhile, troops who have completed combat tours in eastern Afghanistan are flown back to the United States. U.S. troops have to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

[March 2013]