Biden’s Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley gave an update about the evacuation plan for Americans stuck in Afghanistan; Austin and Milley promised to successfully evacuate U.S. citizens trying to escape the war-torn nation. However, they were hesitant to promise that all Americans will be evacuated.
US government: Hesitant to guarantee that all Americans will be evacuated
During a joint press meeting with Austin, Milley stated that evacuating U.S. citizens from Afghanistan is their number one priority. In addition to this, they also plan to evacuate Afghans who have been supporting the U.S. for years, promising not to leave the Afghan allies behind.
The secretary of defense also noted that they will be evacuating as many people as possible. However, Austin acknowledged that they do not have the capacity to collect a big number of people.
Biden Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on evacuating stranded Americans in Afghanistan:
"We don't have the capability go out and collect up large numbers of people" pic.twitter.com/TwdJuCjm4G
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 18, 2021
U.S. officials have been previously hesitant in giving a guarantee that all Americans who want to flee Afghanistan will be relocated if they are not out yet by the August 31 departure deadline.
The secretary of defense continued, stating that right now, they remained focused on securing Hamid Karzai International Airport. They also added that there were around 4,500 U.S. troops in Kabul, assisting with the evacuation efforts.
Austin, on the other hand, claimed that so far, there were no hostile interactions with the Taliban forces. He said that their communication with the commanders of the Taliban stays as open as it could be.
Biden’s defense secretary refused to promise that Americans outside of Kabul will be evacuated
However, Austin refused to state whether or not Americans will be sent outside of Kabul to collect other U.S. citizens getting blocked by Taliban checkpoints on their way to the airport. Milley maintained that so far, no orders were given to them to do so.
Biden’s defense secretary also noted that they will keep coordinating and de-conflicting with the insurgents to ensure that Americans who have to get to the international airport have the needed credentials in order to ensure passage. Austin later claimed that the Taliban were checking credentials and once presented, Americans are allowed to pass.
The evacuation of thousands of Americans from Afghanistan relies on the compliance of the Taliban.
Defense secretary Lloyd Austin said earlier the U.S. military doesn’t have the capability to rescue Americans outside of the Kabul airport. https://t.co/ZvSQUvZkZW
— Chad Gilmartin (@ChadGilmartinCA) August 18, 2021
Austin acknowledges the fact that they are not close to where they intend to be. However, he pledged that the Biden administration will gather everyone that they possibly can evacuate. They will do this as long as they possibly can, until their time’s up or until they run out of the capability to do so.
On the other hand, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff speaks against the criticism that the administration is getting. Milley says that they should have foreseen the collapse of the Security Forces in Afghanistan. He also stated that there were no indications that the Afghan forces would collapse in just a span of 11 days.