U.S. forces evacuated just under 100 American staff of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan yesterday, U.S. government officials said.
President Joe Biden gave the order to evacuate the embassy from the embattled country. A small number of allied diplomats were also evacuated, State Department officials said in a telephonic news conference.
The Defense Department had deployed troops and capabilities to Djibouti just in case there was an order to evacuate the embassy in Khartoum, said Army Lt. Gen. Douglas A. Sims II, the Joint Staff's director of operations. "[Yesterday], the U.S. military evacuated those personnel in support of the State Department closing operations at the Embassy in Khartoum," Sims said. "[Yesterday] at 9 a.m. Eastern, a contingent of U.S. forces lifted off from Djibouti and landed in Ethiopia. The aircraft — including three MH-47 Chinooks refueled in Ethiopia before flying approximately three hours to Khartoum.
I am proud of the extraordinary commitment of our embassy staff, who performed their duties with courage and professionalism and embodied America's friendship and connection with the people of Sudan. I am grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety."
President Joe Biden
"The evacuation was conducted in one movement via rotary wing," Sims continued. "The operation was fast and clean, with service members spending less than an hour on the ground in Khartoum. As we speak, the evacuees are safe and secure."
Sims said there were just over 100 special operations personnel conducting the operation. The U.S. Marine Embassy guards were also evacuated.
"I am proud of the extraordinary commitment of our embassy staff, who performed their duties with courage and professionalism and embodied America's friendship and connection with the people of Sudan," Biden said in a written release. "I am grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety."
Biden also thanked the governments of Djibouti, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia who aided the U.S. evacuation operation.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said the evacuation was under command of U.S. Africa Command and conducted in close coordination with the U.S. State Department. "I'm proud of our extraordinary service members who executed and supported this operation with outstanding precision and professionalism," he said.
Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, praised the Marines who protected and defended the embassy during the past week. "Our Marines who protect many of our embassies overseas do not often get the credit they deserve," he said. "Their courage under duress represents America as its best again in this instance."
There are still American citizens in Sudan. "In the coming days, we will continue to work with the State Department to help American citizens who may want to leave Sudan," Maier said. "One of those ways is to potentially make the overland routes out of Sudan potentially more viable. So, DOD is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats."