The United States has mobilized civilian airlines to evacuate KabulAugust 22, 2021
The United States today involved several major US airlines in evacuating tens of thousands of Afghans and foreigners from Kabul after the capital fell to the Taliban.
The Pentagon says Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has activated the Rarely Used Civil Reserve Air Force (CRAF) to help people arrive at US bases in the Middle East. “The ability of the Ministry of Defense to deploy troops is inextricably linked to the commercial industry, which provides critical transport capacity as well as global networks to meet day-to-day and urgent requirements,” the statement said.
Eighteen civilian aircraft from American Airlines, Atlas, Delta, Omni, Hawaii and United will assist dozens of military transport aircraft involved in the evacuation, the statement said.
Instead of landing and taking off from the capital, the planes will transport people from US bases in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to European countries and, for many, to the United States.
With thousands of troops trying to secure Kabul airport, Washington has set August 31 as the deadline for completing one of the largest evacuation missions the Pentagon has ever conducted.
Up to 15,000 Americans must be evacuated from Afghanistan, according to President Joe Biden, who says the administration wants to get at least 50,000 Afghan allies and their families out of the country.
The situation was further complicated yesterday, when the US government warned its citizens to stay away from the airport due to “security threats”. The Pentagon said yesterday that 17,000 people had been evacuated since the start of the operation on August 14, many of whom first landed in Qatar or Kuwait. The total number includes 2,500 Americans.
CRAF has only been activated twice so far – to transport troops for the 1990-91 Gulf War and again in 2002-2003 for the invasion of Iraq.