Pentagon steps up efforts to evacuate families of military personnel from Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry

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In a memo, Defense Undersecretary for Policy Colin Kahl asked members of the defense service and civilians to email relevant information about their immediate families still in Afghanistan – data that had previously been monitored by the services. Elevating data collection to the Under Secretary of Defense jurisdiction will make it easier to pass that information to the State Department, which is leading efforts to evacuate U.S. citizens, green card holders, and others from the country.

“I think it’s safe to say (…) that we would expect dozens of servicemen to be concerned about their family members,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at the time. of a press conference on Monday.

The memo, first reported by NBC News, was written last Thursday and specifically refers to immediate family members, defined as spouses or unmarried children under the age of 21.

The number of extended family members of U.S. troops and civilians in the Department of Defense remains uncertain, a defense official told CNN, and it could be much higher than immediate family members. For the extended family, the Pentagon has said it will assist the State Department and the coordinator of resettlement efforts in Afghanistan “as they develop mechanisms that can facilitate the safe departures of these people from Afghanistan to the future “.

“Given the current situation in Afghanistan and the lack of a US embassy in the country, there are a number of challenges associated with departures of Afghan nationals, including those of particular interest to the DoD,” Kahl wrote. “However, the DoD will continue to provide support in this relocation effort to the greatest extent possible.”

The Pentagon’s efforts to evacuate American citizens and their allies from Afghanistan officially ended with the withdrawal of American forces from Kabul in late August. Since then, the State Department has led the evacuation effort and has worked with American allies such as Qatar to prosecute them.

Last week, the State Department said it was in contact with 289 Americans who remained in Afghanistan. Of those, 81 are ready to leave the country, Assistant Secretary for Management Brian McKeon told House lawmakers.

The effort to evacuate family members of U.S. servicemen and civilians from the Afghanistan Department of Defense is part of a much larger resettlement and resettlement effort that saw the United States bring in approximately 77,000 Afghans in the country as part of Operation Allies Welcome.

The Biden administration has battled the sudden influx of evacuees with no clear timeline for how long they will be at military bases. More than 50,000 people remain in military installations as they complete visa processing.

On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security said the United States plans to waive fees for many Afghan evacuees in order to apply for work permits and legal permanent resident status. The waiver means that evacuees, many of whom arrived in the United States with very little, will be exempt from paying expensive application fees to obtain work authorization or apply for lawful permanent residence.


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