DOD Prepping US Military Bases To House Up To 30,000 Afghan Refugees, Americans Won’t Be Given Evacuation Priority

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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The Department of Defense (DOD) is preparing for up to 30,000 Afghan refugees to be housed at U.S. Army bases within America. The mass evacuation plan won’t prioritize American citizens living in the Taliban-strong country.

The Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants will be housed at bases like Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and Fort Bliss in Texas, according to Fox News, which cited documents obtained and reviewed by the network. The documents noted that “the situation in Afghanistan may lead to DoS [Department of State] allowing Afghan SIV applicants to be moved to temporary housing locations while still being vetted for parolee status,” Fox News reported.

The Taliban took over much of Afghanistan in just over a week. The Taliban’s quick advance appeared to have caught the U.S. off guard and President Joe Biden’s administration is scrambling to evacuate the thousands of Afghan SIV applicants, their families and U.S. citizens. (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Biden Predicts Taliban Takeover In Afghanistan Is ‘Not Inevitable’)

The State Department issued a memorandum to the DOD on Sunday requesting “Assistance for [the] Transpiration and Temporary Housing, Sustainment, and Support for U.S. Citizens, Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Applicants, and Other Individuals at Risk,” according to a separate document obtained and reviewed by the Daily Caller. The option of bringing Afghan refugees to the U.S. appears to have followed this request from the State Department.

“The rapid resurgence of the Taliban in parts of Afghanistan in recent weeks has put Afghan nationals who have supported the United States in Afghanistan and their families, as well as embassy personnel, U.S. citizens, and other individuals, at risk,” this document noted.

“The Department of State requests that DoD provide transportation for a range of individuals at risk, as described below, including Afghan SIV principal applicants and their eligible family members and other Afghans at risk, to third countries and/or the United States due to the deteriorating security environment and limited or no commercial or contract transpiration options from Kabul and no viable land routes to neighboring countries,” the memorandum continued.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed the plan to Fox News, telling the network that officials “want to have the capacity to get up to several thousand immediately, and want to be prepared for the potential of tens of thousands.” Previously, Biden said the U.S. government wasn’t able to evacuate Afghan translators to the U.S. as they awaited their visa, Fox News noted.

“Once we get more airlift out of Kabul, we’re going to put as many people on those planes as we can. There will be a mix, not just American citizens, but perhaps some Afghan SIV applicants as well,” Kirby said, highlighting that U.S. citizens won’t be given evacuation priority, according to the report. “We’re going to focus on getting people out of the country, then sorting it out at the next stop. It’s not going to be just Americans first, then SIV applicants. We’re going to focus on getting as many folks out as we can.”

The Daily Caller reviewed and obtained documents confirming Fox News’ report on Monday. The documents outlined two approvals from the DOD to the State Department – both surrounding Afghan SIV applicants and their families. The Pentagon also confirmed the news to the Daily Caller, explaining that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “approved two requests for assistance from the State Department to transport and temporarily house Afghan Special Immigration Visa applicants, their families, and other individuals at risk” on Sunday.

The first request allows the DOD to “provide temporary housing, sustainment, and support inside the United States for up to 22,000 Afghan SIV applicants” plus their families and others deemed at-risk, DOD spokesman LTC Chris Mitchell told the Caller.

“The US Northern Command will coordinate details with the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Health and Human Services, as necessary. This support will be provided under Presidential Drawdown Authority to the maximum extent possible, with additional support being provided on a reimbursable basis,” Mitchell explained.

The second request means the DOD “will provide protection, air transportation, and processing of up to 30,000 at-risk individuals from Kabul,” Mitchell continued. These numbers include “embassy personnel, US citizens, Afghan SIV applicants and other at-risk individuals,” he noted.

“8,000 of these will be transported to a third country for processing, with an additional 22,000 being transported to the United States. The Department of State will be responsible for onward travel for all transported individuals,” Mitchell said.

The DOD’s job is to find places to house the Afghan refugees as they await processing. The State Department is tasked with deciding who gets chosen for this process, according to Fox News. Kirby added that officials are “focused on” an Aug. 31 “end date.”