The Pentagon announced Friday that it had expanded the number of U.S. military bases tasked with housing Afghan evacuees making it stateside to seven.
In making the announcement, press secretary John Kirby said, "Today the Department of Defense can announce that it has authorized Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Fort Pickett, Va., and Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., to provide additional support to the U.S. mission to evacuate Afghans, special immigrant visa applicants, their families, and other at-risk individuals."
Kirby said the three new bases join four bases previously announced — Fort Lee, Va., Fort McCoy, Wis., Fort Bliss, Texas, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. — in providing support. The combination of the seven installations will create a capacity for up to 50,000 Afghans and their families.
As of Friday, the Biden administration has said that "just under 7,000" Afghan evacuees are in the United States and are being processed.
The United States has used a combination of U.S. military, coalition, and commercial flights to remove vulnerable Afghans from the Kabul airport to overseas military bases. Those installations are being used as staging areas to process the evacuees before moving them to the United States for safe haven.
According to The Hill, the use of commercial flights is creating a bottleneck at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., where numerous evacuation flights have flown in in the past week carrying thousands of people.
Afghan refugees have reportedly had to wait hours on the tarmac as officials process the passengers. Kirby on Friday acknowledged the reports and said "they have proven accurate in the last couple of days."
He said the holdup is "really more an issue for Customs and Border Patrol and the process," but as of Friday morning, "they have worked through the difficulties and we believe that wait time now upon landing is going to get much, much shorter."
The Biden administration has said that as of early Friday morning, the U.S. military had evacuated 111,000 people from Afghanistan since the end of July, including 12,500 in the last 24 hours.
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