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U.S. Seeks to Open More Locations to Aid Evacuation From Kabul, General Says

Aug. 21, 2021 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

DOD officials provided an overview of efforts to evacuate U.S. citizens and eligible Afghans from Kabul.

Two service members help life a child onto a truck with help from others on the ground.
Helping Hands
U.S. Marines, along with British and Turkish forces assist a child during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 20, 2021. U.S. service members are assisting the Department of State with a non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) in Afghanistan.
Photo By: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla
VIRIN: 210820-M-AU949-0101A
A Marine kneels while talking to a group of people.
Wellness Check
A Marine checks the well-being of evacuees at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 20, 2021. U.S. service members are assisting the Department of State with an orderly drawdown of designated personnel in Afghanistan.
Photo By: Marine Corps Sgt. Samuel Ruiz
VIRIN: 210820-M-GQ845-1010A

John F. Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, and Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor, Joint Staff deputy director for regional operations, spoke at a press briefing today.

Besides the intermediate way station in Qatar, the U.S. has started using additional sites to include Germany, and discussions are taking place to open other areas as well, Taylor said, noting that planes from the Hamid Karzai International Airport have also landed in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Once the evacuees are processed at intermediate way stations, they are flown to the U.S. and are taken to Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Lee, Virginia; or, Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

In the last 24 hours, six U.S. military C-17 aircraft and 32 charter flights departed Kabul, for a total of about 3,800 passengers, he said.

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Also in the past 24 hours, three flights landed at Dulles International Airport, in Virginia, he added. 

"As you can see, this is a very complex and multi step operation," Taylor said.

The U.S. military has 5,800 troops at the Kabul airport. Their mission is airport operations and security, he said, adding that "the airport remains secure."

Kirby described the situation outside the airport in Kabul as "very fluid and dynamic," and that "it changes almost by the hour."

An aiman walks with a handful of boxes.
Carrying Supplies
An airman carries supplies intended for Afghan evacuees at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 20, 2021. Ramstein Air Base is providing safe, temporary lodging for qualified evacuees from Afghanistan as part of Operation Allies Refuge during the next several weeks
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Madelyn Keech
VIRIN: 210820-F-FN350-3065A
A Marine sits and holds a baby while another stands watch.
A Marine's Comfort
A Marine calms an infant at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 20. Service members and coalition partners are assisting the Department of State with a non-combatant evacuation operation in Afghanistan.
Photo By: Marine Corps Sgt. Isaiah Campbell
VIRIN: 210820-M-TU241-1005A

The press secretary said he's aware of reports during the past week of Afghans and Americans being harassed and in a few cases assaulted, but believes it has not been widespread. 

Regular communications with Taliban leaders outside the airport continue throughout the day, Kirby said. Those talks center around deconfliction and ensuring Americans and Afghans have safe passage to the airport.