- The United States left the military facility on July 2, 2021, before American troops fully withdrew from the country weeks later on August 30
- But Donald Trump hit out at the decision to hand control of Bagram Airfield to Afghan forces in a campaign rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa on Saturday
- The 77-year-old claimed the base is located an hour away from where China makes its nuclear missiles and said it is now occupied by them
The United States left the military facility on July 2, 2021 before American troops fully withdrew from the country weeks later on August 30.
But former president Trump hit out at the decision to hand control of Bagram Airfield to Afghan forces in a campaign rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa on Saturday.
The 77-year-old claimed the base is located an hour away from where China makes its nuclear missiles and said it is now occupied by them.
He told the crowd he wanted to get Bagram Airfield back as part of a trade deal with Afghanistan.
‘We were going to keep Bagram,’ Trump told the crowd at the event. ‘Bagram is the biggest base just about there is, anywhere in the world.
‘The biggest runways, the most powerful, it can hold eight-feet deep concrete. They can hold anything and we gave it up.’
He added that he did not want it for Afghanistan but to keep an eye of China.
‘I wanted it because that’s one hour away from where China makes their nuclear missiles and we gave it up.
‘Why did we give it up? This thing costs billions of dollars, many years ago. We didn’t need it for Afghanistan but it was right next to where they make their missiles, China.’
‘Now you know who occupies it? China,’ Trump claimed. ‘China occupies it. How stupid are these people? It’s so sad.’
However, he suggested he’ll get Bagram Airfield back if he is re-elected next year by striking a deal with Afghanistan, which has been ruled by Taliban warlords since President Biden finished withdrawing from the country in August 2021.
Diplomacy with the extremist group seems unlikely. They were driven from power by the US in 2001 for harboring 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
‘But we’ll get it back,’ Trump said. ‘We’ll get it back, maybe we’ll get it back as part of a trade deal.
‘Give us back that damn airport.’
Bagram Airfield was the largest US military base in Afghanistan at the time before it was secretly evacuated in July 2021.
It was handed back to the Afghan government before it fell to Taliban rebel forces on August 15, 2021 after the NATO-trained Afghan Army surrendered.
Trump’s visit to Iowa was part of his fall push to sign up supporters and volunteers before the state’s fast-approaching caucuses that will kick off the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
It was the latest in a series of targeted regional stops aimed at seizing on the large crowds the former president draws to press attendees to commit to vote for him and serve as precinct leaders on Jan. 15.
While Trump boasted that polls show him far ahead of other contenders, he urged those in attendance Saturday to turn out on caucus day to ‘make sure we have a big victory’ that would signal to other candidates that they should drop out.
‘Will you please give me a good showing?’ Trump asked the crowd to applause. ‘That’s the least you can do.’
While Trump has a comfortable edge over his top rivals, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, in early polls of likely caucus participants, Trump’s campaign has been more aggressive in Iowa than in any of the other early-voting states.
And he continued to attack both DeSantis and Haley during his appearance Saturday, slamming the Florida governor over his past opposition to federal ethanol mandates and for running against Trump.
Trump has made regular stops in Iowa, appearing at eight events before audiences totaling more than 16,000, according to Trump’s Secret Service detail, in the past eight weeks.
It’s part of a 2024 strategy that stresses organization more than his campaign did in 2016, when he finished in second place.