In the wake of the Biden administration’s disastrous flight from Afghanistan, the government is saying that up to 22,000 “at-risk” Afghans could be transported to the U.S. in the coming weeks.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said during a press briefing on Monday that they could be arriving at three American facilities.
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Kirby said, “Our aim at these three facilities would be over time, three to four weeks from now, be able to provide support for up to 22,000 at-risk individuals.”
“We will not have that capacity immediately,” Kirby added. “It will take some time to build it out.”
According to Kirby, there are currently 2,500 U.S. forces on the ground in Kabul. In the next 24 hours that number is expected to rise to over 3,000.
The purpose of those troops is to assist Americans who are still in the war-torn country and also potentially 22,000 at-risk Afghans.
Kirby said “several hundred people” have been “flown out” of Afghanistan so far, and that “5,000 or maybe even more out per day” on “literally a couple dozen or more sorties” could also fly out.
“I’m being intentionally careful with the estimates because, again, it’s a fluid situation and it is going to change day by day,” Kirby said.
Kirby continued, “But our goal would be once safety and security is — can be resumed at the airport, to begin to flow from the military side, multiple sorties a day with the hope of getting thousands of people out per day.”
Among the facilities that will potentially house tens of thousands of Afghani nationals are Fort Bliss in Texas, and Fort McCoy in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Republicans like Rep. Mike Gallagher and Rep. Glenn Grothman both expressed a desire to import Afghan nationals.
“Right now we need to work to get people out of there,” Rep. Gallagher said, referring to Afghans who are still in that country.
Department of Defense spokesman Gary Reed said, “There may be other sites identified if services are needed, additional capacity is needed. At this point we’re looking to establish 20 [thousand] to 22,000 spaces. We can expand if we need to.”
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Kirby emphasized that sticking to the August 31 date to remove all U.S. troops from Afghanistan was still a priority.
“The president’s made it clear that he wants this drawdown complete by the 31st. That’s what we’re driving at,” Kirby said.
“Beyond that, I think we’ll just have to take it as it comes,” he finished.
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