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Anticipating a rough horizon

Under a dull, Sunday morning sky, ­American troops lowered the flag at Camp Antonik. For a storied moment marking one of the final steps toward the end of the longest war in American history, the May 2 handover was unremarkable and small. A contingent of American soldiers lowered the Stars and Stripes, photographers snapped a few photos, then Afghan soldiers raised their flag in its place.

The camp, adjoining the larger complex once known to American and British soldiers as Camps Bastion and Leatherneck, is the last in the area to change hands. The total withdrawal that President Joe Biden ordered in April already is well underway. U.S. and NATO commanders say it may be completed by July 4, well ahead of Biden’s Sept. 11 deadline.

The complex was the wartime logistics hub for NATO forces in Afghanistan in restive Helmand province and held at its peak 28,000 military personnel and contractors. Years ago Afghan forces took over the sprawling bases, with most materiel, along with the KFC and Burger King outlets, shipped home.

Camp Antonik was the last to undergo a handoff, continuing as a strategic operating base for U.S. and Afghan commandos in the heart of a Taliban insurgency. Nearly half of the 2,300 Americans killed in two decades of war in Afghanistan died in Helmand province.

Read more at World Magazine

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