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DOD Remembers Afghan Vets, Details Disaster Aid, Announces Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Site

Military personnel assist people standing in a line.
Evacuation Control Center
Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit process evacuees as they go through the Evacuation Control Center at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 28, 2021.
Photo By: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla
VIRIN: 210828-M-AU949-0281

DOD leaders marked the second anniversary of the end of the war in Afghanistan today praising the valor, patriotism and courage of those who fought there and remembering those troops who died in the 20-year war.

My thoughts today are with all of the brave Americans who answered the call to duty after al-Qaida's terrorists attacked America — including the Pentagon itself — on September 11, 2001. ... We bow our heads today in memory of the 2,461 U.S. service members who never made it home, including the 13 courageous troops taken from us in the attack at Abbey Gate in the final hours of the war. We also remember the hundreds of service members from allied and partner countries who lost their lives during this 20-year war."
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement that the nation also honors the more than 20,000 Americans who were injured waging war in Afghanistan, including many who still bear wounds that are not visible. 

Austin said the war is over, but America's gratitude to those who served "is unending." 

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said DOD continues to learn lessons from America's longest war. Ryder, speaking at a press conference today, said DOD is "an organization that learns from all of our operations — to include those in Afghanistan."

Those lessons are learned in professional military education or in new tactics, techniques and procedures that service members learned the hard way in combat. The lessons are also learned in personal experience," Ryder said. "In my own experience, having served in Iraq, having served in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, every time you engage in those type of operations, you're going to learn things which you subsequently apply." 

Service members continue to apply those lessons daily. "Ultimately, this is a learning organization," he said. "As a result, what you see is a U.S. military that comes out of 20 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, that truly makes this the most combat capable, most credible military the world has ever known for that very reason: because you have so many combat veterans in our ranks." 

Ryder also briefed reporters on continuing efforts to aid the people of Maui and those hurt by Hurricane Idalia.

An aerial view shows the aftermath of a fire.
Overview of Maui Wildfire Damage
U.S. Fire Administration surveys damage from Hawaii Wildfires Aug. 13, 2023, in Maui, Hawaii.
Photo By: Wesley Lagenour, Federal Emergency Management Agency
VIRIN: 230812-O-FV683-4930

DOD assets continue to work closely with FEMA and Hawaiian officials to support the coordinated response to the Maui wildfires. "Joint Task Force 5-0 continues search and recovery activities with Hawaii National Guard teams, the FBI and the Defense POW-MIA Accounting Agency," Ryder said. The Hawaii National Guard also continues providing 24-hour support to local law enforcement."

The 25th Infantry Division has provided trucks, water tanks and water purification specialists to the effort in Maui. Also helping with this mission is the Pacific Fleets Navy Environmental Preventative Medicine Unit Six. "As we move forward, the Department of Defense will continue to support the people of Hawaii during this very challenging time," he said.

Ryder turned to the military effort to help Americans in the southeastern part of the country. "Hurricane Idalia made landfall yesterday in the Big Bend area of the Florida panhandle as a category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles an hour and record-breaking storm surges," he said. "That was the strongest hurricane to strike Florida's Big Bend region in more than 125 years."

He noted the Florida National Guard is fully activated and the Joint Task Force-Florida is at full operational capacity working under the direction of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. "Joint Task Force Florida has in position 5,344 guardsmen, 2,400 high-water vehicles, 14 Army National Guard helicopters, 23 watercrafts and [Air Force] Red Horse heavy construction teams around the state to provide responsive, sustained support to reduce suffering and assist in the restoration of critical services," he said.

The storm tracked into Georgia and South Carolina and its effects were felt up the East Coast. Ryder said the North Carolina National Guard has activated 128 guardsmen and positioned them and 51 high-water vehicles and other resources at armories.  

The South Carolina National Guard also has nearly 100 guardsmen on duty supporting hurricane recovery operations in that state. U.S. Northern Command is providing FEMA a federal staging area at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, and has deployed a defense coordinating officer to FEMA in Tallahassee, Florida. 

"DOD will remain in close coordination with FEMA, state officials and other supporting agencies as the cleanup and recovery operations continue to develop," the general said. 

Finally, Ryder noted the department is launching a website on the all-domain anomaly resolution office to provide the public with information concerning the office and its efforts to understand and resolve unidentified anomalous phenomena.


This website will provide information including videos and photos on unidentified anomalous phenomena "as they are declassified and approved for public release," Ryder said. "The website's other content includes reporting trends and a section of frequently asked questions, as well as links to official reports, transcripts, news releases and other resources that the public may find useful." 

The office will update the website with its most recent activities and findings as new information is cleared for public release. To access the site, click here.

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