As the latest major deployments of U.S. and NATO troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, one of the most important milestones in their departure was the closure last week of Bagram Aerodrome, once again. largest U.S. base in the country.
At some point in the last 20 years Bagram has been so large that the troops stationed here could enjoy Subway and Pizza Hut, but another consequence of having so many young Americans together in one place was that in recent years the base has developed its own Pokémon Go community.
Like this piece in Stars and Stripes contours, Bagram was the home of many Pokémon Go gyms and a lot of Pokémon Go players, that is to say for many young men and women stranded overseas it has become a welcome respite from danger and a way to make friends.
“Being able to start a conversation with a complete stranger in the middle of a war zone over something like Pokémon was a great way to stay social,” an entrepreneur who worked at Bagram last year told the site.
The closure of the base – which has since been handed over to local Afghan forces – has also raised the prospect of “lost” Pokémon, as gyms that were once firmly disputed are left unchallenged.
Screenshots of Bagram after the departure of the troops show low-level Pokemon, normally easily defeated, blocked guard posts, perhaps indefinitely. A small Lotad defended the ancient Warrior Chapel in Bagram for 10 days, while a humble Aron defended a memorial to a fallen soldier for about two weeks.
Then again, maybe there will be locals or members of the Afghan forces who are at stake and can keep the gyms changing hands. And if there isn’t – or even if there is and gyms are sitting here – some veterans like Alaska National Guardian John Sutter are trying to wait for a world where Afghanistan isn’t. not a war zone, but a place where some Pokémon have been left behind.
“Maybe in 20 years I can ride a motorcycle south and reclaim that Pokémon gym again,” Sutter said. Stars and Stripes. You have to go read the full feature here.