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Last U.S. troops fly from Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan

Feb. 28, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Edinger and Staff Sgt. Martin Whitaker of the 143rd Military Police Detachment, Montana Army National Guard, were the final passengers to leave the Transit Center at Manas on Friday.
Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Edinger and Staff Sgt. Martin Whitaker of the 143rd Military Police Detachment, Montana Army National Guard, were the final passengers to leave the Transit Center at Manas on Friday. ()
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The last U.S. troops to fly from the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, to Afghanistan departed Friday, marking the end of the base’s role as a transit hub after more than 12 years.

With troops no longer passing through Manas on their way to or returning from Afghanistan, the personnel at the transit center will focus on closing up shop by the time the U.S. military’s lease on the base expires, said transit center spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Col. Max Despain.

From now until the U.S. military leaves the transit center in July, the only air operations that will continue will be flights hauling cargo out of the transit center as part of efforts to close down the base, Despain said.

“We’re working on a clean, neat, orderly transfer of the leased property back to the lease holders,” Despain said in an email to Military Times on Friday.

Unless Afghan President Hamid Karzai or his successor sign a security agreement by the end of the year, all U.S. troops are slated to leave Afghanistan by the end of December. Some troops headed to Afghanistan before then will depart from a new transit center at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania.

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