Tens of thousands of radical trying to fly stay successful the country, incapable to leave.
Aug. 18, 2021Updated 7:31 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s apical 2 leaders said connected Wednesday that the U.S. authorities is committed to evacuating each Americans who privation to permission Afghanistan, arsenic good arsenic Afghans who helped the warfare effort and who are cleared to participate the United States.
Provided, that is, these radical tin get themselves past Taliban checkpoints to Hamid Karzai International Airport successful Kabul, the Afghan capital.
“We mean to evacuate those who person been supporting america for years, and we are not going to permission them behind,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the president of Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters. “And we volition get retired arsenic galore arsenic possible.”
Speaking astatine a Pentagon quality conference, some General Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III stopped abbreviated of assuring harmless transition to the tens of thousands of Afghan allies who person been blocked by the Taliban from reaching the airport. So far, American Marines and different troops person not been sent into Kabul to extract evacuees, the men said.
“The forces that we person are focused connected information of the airfield,” said Mr. Austin, who added that the subject would enactment with the Taliban to let Afghans with due paperwork to walk through. “I don’t person the capableness to spell retired and widen operations presently into Kabul.”
General Milley said the State Department was successful connection with the Taliban to guarantee that passengers could marque their mode to the airport. But determination person been galore reports of Taliban fighters beating and harassing Afghans trying to get there, contempt the Pentagon’s warnings not to interfere with the evacuation.
Neither Mr. Austin nor General Milley would perpetrate to extending the operation, which has evacuated 5,000 radical since it started implicit the weekend, beyond the Aug. 31 deadline the White House had acceptable for ending the military’s ngo successful the country.
In an interrogation broadcast aboriginal Wednesday with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, President Biden said the United States was committed to evacuating each American retired of Afghanistan, adjacent if that meant extending the deadline.
“If there’s American citizens left, we’re going to enactment to get them each out,” Mr. Biden said.
“Americans should recognize that we’re going to effort to get it done earlier Aug. 31,” helium said. But helium added, “If we don’t, we’ll find astatine the clip who’s left.”
But Afghans indispensable marque it done a gantlet of Taliban checkpoints to get the airport.
“It’s evident we’re not adjacent to wherever we privation to beryllium successful presumption of getting the numbers through,” Mr. Austin acknowledged. “So we’re going to enactment that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we’re going to get everyone that we tin perchance evacuate evacuated.”
He added: “As agelong arsenic we perchance tin until the timepiece runs out, oregon we tally retired of capability.”
It was the archetypal quality league by the Pentagon’s elder enactment since the bonzer autumn of Kabul implicit the weekend. The disintegration of the Afghan subject has been profoundly achy for the Pentagon, which spent 20 years and $83 cardinal gathering up Afghanistan’s information forces. But beyond that, the illness of the Afghan authorities has near the Pentagon facing questions from veterans of the warfare and active-duty work members, who person wondered what the constituent was of the sacrifice.
Both men tried to enactment immoderate of those feelings into words. “All of this is precise idiosyncratic to me,” Mr. Austin said. “This is simply a warfare that I fought successful and led. I cognize the country, I cognize the people, and I cognize those who fought alongside me.”
General Milley sought to code American work members who took portion successful the endeavor directly: “For much than 20 years, we person prevented an onslaught connected the U.S. homeland,” helium said, adding that 2,448 troops mislaid their lives and 20,722 were wounded successful action, “and galore others suffered the unseen wounds of war.”
Marine Corps leaders, successful a missive Wednesday, besides tried to reassure the corps, which has carried overmuch of the Afghan fight, saying they “believe — without question — that your work was meaningful, almighty and important.”
But galore astatine the Pentagon stay acrophobic astir what volition hap to the tens of thousands of Afghans who helped U.S. troops, the embassy and American institutions successful Afghanistan.
Understand the Taliban Takeover successful Afghanistan
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Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose successful 1994 amid the turmoil that came aft the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan successful 1989. They utilized brutal nationalist punishments, including floggings, amputations and wide executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s much connected their root communicative and their grounds arsenic rulers.
At the moment, the Biden administration’s strategy to get these radical to information appears focused connected holding talks with the Taliban and asking them to let radical to get to the airport.
General Milley besides pushed backmost connected reports successful the quality media that determination were warnings of a accelerated illness of the Afghan military.
“I americium precise acquainted with the intelligence, and successful warfare thing is ever certain, but I tin archer you that determination are not reports that I americium alert of that predicted a information unit of 300,000 would evaporate successful 11 days,” helium said.
General Milley said 5,000 Marines and soldiers were to beryllium connected the crushed by precocious Wednesday to unafraid the airport, arsenic subject and commercialized flights carrying radical retired of the Afghan superior continued apace.
In the erstwhile 24 hours, 18 Air Force C-17 transport planes departed Kabul, with 2,000 passengers, including 325 American citizens, John F. Kirby, the main Pentagon spokesman, told reporters connected Wednesday. The others were Afghan civilians and NATO personnel, helium said.
That full is good abbreviated of the 5,000 to 9,000 passengers a time the subject is aiming to alert retired of the state erstwhile the evacuation process is “at afloat throttle,” Mr. Kirby said.
“The extremity is to get arsenic galore radical retired arsenic rapidly arsenic we can,” helium said.
About the aforesaid fig of subject flights were expected to permission Kabul successful the adjacent 24 hours, but Mr. Kirby said helium could not foretell however galore passengers those planes would carry.
The Pentagon said 1,000 unit person been sent to Qatar to assistance State Department officials velocity the processing of visa applications for the Afghans who worked for the American warfare effort. Evacuation flights from Kabul are mostly flying to Qatar, wherever Afghan visa applicants are being screened earlier they committee flights to the United States.