NATO concluded its combat mission in Afghanistan's Helmand Province on Sunday, transferring responsibility of two bases and an airstrip to the Afghan military.
A ceremony was held at the Bastion-Leatherneck complex to mark the momentous occasion in the 13-year war and edging closer to NATO's full military withdrawal. American and British flags were lowered one final time.
"This is truly a historic day," said commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, US Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson.
"It is with pride that we announce the end of UK combat operations in Helmand... Our Armed Forces' tremendous sacrifice laid the foundations for a strong Afghan Security Force, set the security context that enabled the first democratic transition of power in the country's history, and stopped it being a launch pad for terrorist attacks in the UK," remarked British Secretary of State for Defense Michael Fallon.
Afghan National Army Maj. Gen. Sayed Malouk, commander of the army's 215 Corps in central Helmand, expressed confidence in the ANA, noting "the ANA has already been conducting operations by themselves, in the battlefield, and no district has been taken over, no checkpoint has been taken over by the Taliban," adding, "We are ready."
By JD FInley
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