‘U.S.-led evacuation from Kabul of Americans, at-risk Afghans and others from the Kabul airport accelerated Sunday, although it remains vulnerable to threats posed by the Islamic State extremists.’ Said Biden
One week after the Taliban captured Kabul, Biden said discussions were underway among military officials about extending airlifts beyond Aug. 31.
“We’re hoping we won’t have to extend this,” he said, suggesting a potential consultation with the Taliban.
Since Aug. 14, one day before the Taliban entered Kabul, 28,000 people have been evacuated by airlift. Biden said 11,000 people left from Kabul over 36 hours this weekend.
The number includes charter and non-U.S. military aircraft flights and the U.S. Air Force C-17s and C-130s flying from the capital.
The U.S. military is controlling air traffic on both sides of the airport – civilian and military.
Tens of thousands of people are still waiting for their turn to board the airlift, which security issues and other bureaucratic hurdles have slowed.
Biden claimed that U.S. forces have been able to extend the airport’s perimeter, enabling them to create a “safe zone” of sorts around it.
He stated, “I am not going to discuss the changes we have made to maintain as much security as possible.”
“We’ve been making substantial efforts in increasing the safety and accessibility to the airport. I can’t go into detail about how we’re securing this, but it’s safe to say we are.”
“We’ve discussed [the strategy] a lot with the Taliban. They’ve been cooperative, for example, in extending some of the perimeters as it relates to our best military judgments about necessary troops on the ground that are going to be required. And so we have a shared vision, and it does include transition if they agree to confront
He said groups of American citizens in Kabul are being moved more efficiently and safely to the airport, but he did not provide details.
He claimed that any American who wants to get home would be able to get back.
Earlier Sunday, administration officials said the U.S. military is considering “creative ways” for Americans and others to get into Kabul airport amid “acute” security threats, with the Pentagon ordering six U.S. commercial airlines to help move evacuees from temporary shelters outside Afghanistan on Sunday because of growing safety concerns related to increased.
Biden pointed out criticisms from Republican politicians about the Afghan evacuees and assured everyone these people are screened before they board any flights.
Biden and his aides are worried that extremist groups in Afghanistan will take advantage of the chaos near Kabul airport.
“We’re focused with every tool of our arsenal, including troops, intelligence, and aircraft,” said Biden’s national security adviser Sullivan, citing the “persistent” threat.
The U.S. military has ferried 3,900 people out of the capital city in Kabul to safety over the past 24 hours. There have been 14 C-17 flights and nine transport flights operated by a C-130 cargo plane, according to one unnamed defense official speaking on condition of anonymity because these details still haven’t yet been.
Evacuation From Kabul Flights Increased
Flyouts of military aircraft from 1,600 to 3,900 people in the last 24 hours represent a marked increase but are still a far cry from what the U.S. military can airlift daily.
The Biden administration is not currently providing several Americans seeking to leave Afghanistan. Estimates put the total somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000. Sunday’s estimate by Sullivan was considerably lower at “several thousand.”
Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Austin admitted that as of Aug. 31, Biden’s planned date for evacuating the country, he will recommend whether to extend the deadline. With tens of thousands of Americans and others still left in the country, it is unclear where they will go.
Austin’s interview with ABC was taped on Saturday, but it aired Sunday. The day before, the State Department urged people to leave Afghanistan as part of an organized private evacuation effort not to come to Kabul airport until they had received instructions from the American Embassy. However, any person who the embassy has already instructed should make their way there.
Airlift crews will continue their missions as long as at all possible, says Austin.
In a recent interview, Austin revealed that the U.S. Department of State is working hard to get all American citizens out who want to leave. Their best approach so far is “to find creative ways” to contact these people and help them travel safely to a nearby airfield.
The British military said Sunday that seven more people had died while waiting in a long line outside the airport.
Republicans took steps to condemn Biden’s response. Ernst said, “If the Taliban is saying that Americans can travel safely to the airport, then there is no better way to make sure they get safely to the airport than by using our military to escort them.”
Ryan Crocker, who served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan during George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House, said that Joe Biden’s management of troop withdrawal following NATO’s Operation Enduring Freedom had been disastrous by unleashing a crisis across the globe.
A central problem in the evacuation operation is processing evacuees once they reach other countries in the region and Europe.
Those temporary waystations, including Qatar, Bahrain, and Germany, are running out of capacity while new sites are being made available in Spain.
The United States has activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet to kindle Afghanistan operations to free up military aircraft.
Eighteen planes run by American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, Omni Air, Hawaiian Airlines, and United will be used to ferry evacuees from interim waystations. The airlines will not fly into Afghanistan.
Six airlines have agreed to help with the airlift for about two weeks.
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Commercial airliners will retain their civilian status during the next major war, but the military’s Air Mobility Command will control the flights.
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