Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion, in southwestern Afghanistan, were handed over to the Afghan government today, with British officials touting it as the end of their involvement in the war, and NATO officials in general hyping it as part of the end of “combat operations.”
Yet this is a largely rhetorical distinction, as officials already secured an agreement from the Ghani government to continue the war through 2024 and beyond, and the camp closures isn’t changing that.
The real story is that 13 years in, the occupation is changing shape, with NATO vowing a much bigger focus on airstrikes as they try to limit the number of their own ground troops directly involved.
In limiting their own involvement on the ground, NATO is making the war less controversial in the West. Yet we must make no mistake that the war is still going, and still far away from a resolution.