Pentagon chief orders US airlines to assist Afghan evacuation


This is the third time in history the military has activated CRAF, according to the Pentagon….reports Asian Lite News

Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin has ordered the US airlines to provide 18 aircraft to support evacuation missions from Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement that Austin has ordered the Commander of US Transportation Command “to activate Stage I of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF)”, which provides the Pentagon access to commercial air mobility resources to support evacuation from Afghanistan.

“The current activation is for 18 aircraft: three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines; and four from United Airlines,” said the statement.

The statement added that the commercial planes would not fly into Kabul Airport.

US Military aircraft will focus on operations in and out of Kabul, and commercial planes “will be used for the onward movement of passengers from temporary safe havens and interim staging bases,” it said.

This is the third time in history the military has activated CRAF, according to the Pentagon. The first was during the Gulf War and the second the Iraq War.

The US has been scrambling to evacuate Americans and its Afghan partners from the country since Taliban forces entered the capital Kabul on August 15.

A total of 7,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan since the start of evacuation operations on August 14 and over 5,200 US troops are in Kabul, the Pentagon has said.

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan last Sunday. Their sudden victory, which comes as the US withdraws from the country following a 20-year-war, has sparked chaos at Kabul’s airport, from where America and allied nations are trying to safely evacuate thousands of citizens and allies.

“The US military footprint and Kabul now has more than 5,200 total troops on the ground. Kabul airport remains secure and open for flight operations. There are now multiple gates that have access for entry into the airfield, which will help expedite processing in a safe and orderly manner,” said Major General Hank Taylor, Commanding General of the Army Operational Test Command.

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