The US military plans to start hourly evacuation flights for Afghans out of Kabul. They hope to move between 5,000 to 9,000 people each day. These people include Americans, Afghan refugees, and other nations’ citizens.
It is unclear whether those potential passengers will be able to reach the evacuation flights. The Taliban have established checkpoints throughout the city of Kabul. They are searching for Afghans who fought for the fallen government or assisted Americans in the two-decade war.
The evacuation plans’ scale makes it a historic emergency airlift operation. It emphasizes the challenge that awaits the US military. The US hopes to reduce the damage caused by the collapse of Afghanistan and the seizing of the country by the Taliban.
There are tens of thousands of Afghans, including interpreters, refugees, and family members, who are desperately trying to escape the grasp of the Taliban. Only two weeks remain to get them out before the military’s end date to its two-decade Afghanistan mission on August 31st.
From Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the 82nd Airborne Division is in charge of securing Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. The 82nd trains and specializes in securing and operating airfields in hostile areas. The US is also prioritizing air traffic control at the Kabul airport.
An Unknown Future
According to Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director for the Joint Staff for regional operations, by late Tuesday, there will be around 4,000 US troops on the ground. A more prominent presence from the 2,500 troops as of Monday.
The airport shut down for several hours Monday due to the hundreds of desperate Afghans flooding the tarmac. In an attempt to escape the unknown future of Afghanistan, they mobbed a taxiing C-17. Some held on to it as it took off and tragically fell to their deaths. A body of a dead Afghan was found in the aircraft’s wheel well after an emergency landing. The US Air Force will release further information about the incident later Tuesday.
Overnight, nine C-17 Globemaster III flights arrived at Kabul. They brought in equipment and about 1,000 troops. Seven C-17s flew out, carrying a total of 700 to 800 passengers, 165 American citizens, as well as Special Immigrant Visa, or SIV, applicants, and other countries’ citizens.
A Harsh Reality
A C-17 flight packed with 640 Afghans on board departed on Sunday, nearly a record for the massive transport aircraft. An image that went viral online captured the scene depicting the harsh reality.
The military’s priority was to deliver troops and equipment to the airport. Once that mission is completed, Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor said the speed of evacuations will increase.
The military’s goal is to evacuate up to 9,000 people daily. However, Taylor cautioned that the situation on the ground is unpredictable, and unexpected challenges could arise. He hopes to have one evacuation flight per hour within the next 24 hours.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the military is in talks with the Taliban, including US commanders talking to Taliban commanders outside the airport. Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor said the group now in control of the country has not threatened, attacked, or had any recent hostile interactions with the US military.
John Kirby informs that the military still plans to finish all missions in Afghanistan by August 31st. What might happen beyond that date if evacuations aren’t complete is unknown.
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