Photo essay: Remnants of the trillion-dollar war in Afghanistan rust in the desert

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A large tent covered in insulating foam stands waiting to be demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan January 2, 2015. The base is being shrunk by demolishing large swaths of housing in order to hold roughly 13,000 foreign troops, mostly Americans, who will remain in the country under a new two-year mission named "Resolute Support" to train Afghan troops. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A large tent covered in insulating foam stands waiting to be demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan January 2, 2015. The base is being shrunk by demolishing large swaths of housing in order to hold roughly 13,000 foreign troops, mostly Americans, who will remain in the country under a new two-year mission named “Resolute Support” to train Afghan troops. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Late last month, United States and NATO forces watched as Gen. John Campbell rolled up the green and white flag of the International Security Assistance Force, a symbolic gesture that represented the end of America’s 13-year combat mission of peacekeeping and reconstruction in Afghanistan.

Calling it the longest war in American history, President Barack Obama said that the ISAF was coming to a “responsible conclusion.” After spending nearly $1 trillion on the effort, many Americans are relieved the U.S. armed forces are pulling out, while others argue the U.S. is leaving Afghanistan at a particularly weak moment.

At December’s small ceremony in Kabul, Campbell expanded upon the president’s words, saying that the day marked “the end of an era and beginning of a new one.” He then unfurled another green flag of the new U.S.-led mission, called “Resolute Support.”

Despite a drawdown of U.S. troops, America’s military presence in the war-torn country wasn’t over. About 18,000 foreign troops — nearly 11,000 of them American — will remain in Afghanistan to advise and assist the country’s security forces and help them counter insurgent attacks, which have increased in recent months. 2014 was the war’s deadliest year, with Taliban attacks claiming more than 4,500 Afghan soldiers’ lives.

Sign posts declaring the distance from Bagram Air Field to various U.S. bases across the world are seen on the base in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Sign posts declaring the distance from Bagram Air Field to various U.S. bases across the world are seen on the base in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Going forward, “Resolute Support” is meant to be a two-year mission of shrinking support. The U.S. has planned on halving the number of troops to 5,000 by the end of 2015 and then reducing to a “normal” embassy presence in Kabul by 2016.

At its peak, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan swelled to 140,000 in 2010 when Obama ordered a “surge” to counter the growing insurgency. Now, the U.S. is tasked in dismantling its operations throughout Afghanistan to house the incoming foreign troops chosen for “Resolute Support.”

Reuters’ Lucas Jackson photographed the many unused Army trucks, tents and other detritus that are waiting to be removed at America’s biggest base in Afghanistan, the Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province.

Burned Afghan National Army trucks wait to be demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Burned Afghan National Army trucks wait to be demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A door rests on the floor of a tent that has been dismantled as part of areas being demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A door rests on the floor of a tent that has been dismantled as part of areas being demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Cases of water bottles cascade out of shrink wrap in an area waiting to be cleared in order to shrink the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Cases of water bottles cascade out of shrink wrap in an area waiting to be cleared in order to shrink the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A view of sand bags filled with earth stand stacked around concrete shelters to protect from mortars and rockets inside of Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A view of sand bags filled with earth stand stacked around concrete shelters to protect from mortars and rockets inside of Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A stack of concrete barriers are stored in a yard after being removed during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A stack of concrete barriers are stored in a yard after being removed during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Tents stand waiting to be dismantled as part of areas being cleared in order to shrink the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Tents stand waiting to be dismantled as part of areas being cleared in order to shrink the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A stack of concrete barriers are stored in a yard after being removed during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A stack of concrete barriers are stored in a yard after being removed during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Russian guns are displayed in front of debris left over from temporary housing demolished during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Russian guns are displayed in front of debris left over from temporary housing demolished during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Doors of deserted containers made into housing stand waiting to be demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Doors of deserted containers made into housing stand waiting to be demolished on the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A massive field of demolished concrete lies inside of Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A massive field of demolished concrete lies inside of Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A message is scrawled on debris left over from temporary housing demolished during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A message is scrawled on debris left over from temporary housing demolished during work to dismantle vast swaths of the massive Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

U.S. Army MRAP vehicles stand loaded onto local trucks before being shipped to Kuwait during work to shrink Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

U.S. Army MRAP vehicles stand loaded onto local trucks before being shipped to Kuwait during work to shrink Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Shipping containers waiting to be either shipped back to the United States or disposed of stand stacked inside of Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Shipping containers waiting to be either shipped back to the United States or disposed of stand stacked inside of Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan Jan. 2, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

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