Pentagon press secretary John Kirby held a briefing Thursday afternoon to confirm what was first reported Thursday morning: that troops are heading to Afghanistan to evacuate United States embassy staff. United in Kabul, and provided more details on the number of troops and their current locations.
– James LaPorta (@JimLaPorta) August 12, 2021
In response to a question from a reporter, Kirby said the Pentagon anticipates that troops will be needed to help with “air travel.”
Certainly, we anticipate our stance to support air travel not only for the downsizing of the embassy’s civilian staff, but also for the advancement of special immigrant visa applicants. So we anticipate that an airlift will be required from us and we are working on final plans right now to implement it.
A journalist asked where applicants for special immigrant visas from Afghanistan will be taken:
We anticipate that we will look for locations abroad, outside of the United States, as well as United States-owned facilities overseas or here at home.
He hesitated to elaborate on whether “airlift” meant taking diplomats and civilians from the embassy to the airport or simply evacuating them from the country.
These infantry battalions will be there to help facilitate this safe and orderly reduction, and I don’t want to go into too much tactical detail about what that will require.
Kirby did his best in the briefing and in answering questions to emphasize that this is not a combat mission:
I want to emphasize that these forces are being deployed to support the orderly and safe reduction of civilian personnel at the request of the State Department and to help facilitate an expedited process of work through SIV applicants.
This is a temporary mission with a narrow focus. As with all deployments of our troops in distress, our commanders have an inherent right to self-defense, and any attack against them can and will be met with a forceful and appropriate response.
See the full briefing below.