John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said that the United States has resumed its air operations at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul and working to maintain security. The U.S. has flown in about 1,000 troops into Afghanistan, he said, bringing the total number of troops in the country to 3,500. 700 to 800 individuals have been flown out of Afghanistan in the last 24 hours; about 150 of them are Americans.
Military aircraft can keep flying in and out of the rapidly collapsing country as soon as all troops are in, he said.
“Just on the military craft alone, we believe we can get between 5 and 9,000 people out per day. Of course, some of that’s weather dependent, obviously security dependent,” he said. “That’s just the military side. We want the civilian side of the airport to remain open as well, so commercial flights can and are able to get themselves in and out.”
Kirby stressed that the military’s mission will remain securing the airport, noting he would not want to “set the expectation that we are equipped and able to go out into the countryside and physically move people into Kabul.”
Yesterday, the Pentagon warned of a worsening terror threat as the Taliban seized Kabul. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he wants to “reassess” the potential for terrorist groups to rebuild their forces inside Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover.
However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken argued that the United States can use the Taliban’s desire for legitimacy on the international stage as a means to keep terrorist groups in check.
“The Taliban have a certain self-interest in this. They know what happened the last time they harbored a terrorist group that attacked the United States. It’s not in their self-interest to allow a repeat of that,” Blinken told “Meet the Press.”
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.