The Joint Staff deputy director for regional operations said force protection measures are in place at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, to protect U.S. service members, Afghans and Americans who are awaiting evacuation.
Army Maj. Gen. William D. "Hank" Taylor was joined by Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby at a press briefing this morning.
"U.S. forces retain the inherent right of self-defense and are authorized to meet threats with a swift and forceful response. Force protection is paramount," Taylor said, citing two examples.
Yesterday, U.S. military forces conducted a successful unmanned, over-the-horizon airstrike on a vehicle near the HKIA airport, he said.
Significant secondary explosions from the targeted vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material, indicating that it posed an imminent ISIS-K threat, the general said, adding that the U.S. military is still assessing that attack.
Late yesterday evening, as many as five rockets were fired at the HKIA airport. U.S. military forces successfully employed force protection measures to thwart that attack, Taylor said.
Kirby said commanders on the ground remain in contact with Taliban leaders around the airfield to deconflict and to prevent miscalculations and misunderstandings and so far that communication has been effective.
Evacuation operations continued yesterday, with 26 U.S. military C-17 aircraft departing HKIA with about 1,200 evacuees, Taylor said.
In total, there were 28 flights out of HKIA airport in the last 24 hours, which included coalition departures, he said.
As of today, more than 122,000, including 5,400 Americans, have been evacuated from Afghanistan, the general said.
"U.S. military troops have shown tremendous bravery and compassion as they put themselves in harm's way to evacuate as many American citizens and Afghans as possible," Taylor said.
Today, 17 flights will transport about 3,700 passengers to both Dulles International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport in Pennsylvania, he said.