By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Aug. 24, 2021) -- Using U.S. C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules aircraft along with coalition and partner airlift, about 21,600 personnel have been evacuated from Afghanistan in the last 24 hours, said the Joint Staff deputy director for regional operations, who said the numbers are the best since evacuation operations started.
An increase in flight operations has resulted in one aircraft now leaving Hamid Karzai International Airport about every 45 minutes.
About 58,000 American citizens, civilian allies, Afghan special immigrant visa applicants and other vulnerable Afghans have been taken out of harm's way since August 14, Army Maj. Gen. William D. Taylor said during a briefing today at the Pentagon.
"I want to reiterate that we're able to achieve this level of increased departures because of U.S. military personnel and our partner's work around-the-clock to conduct this highly important mission, including airport security and flight operations," Taylor said.
Those aircraft are now taking evacuees to one of the 14 intermediary locations in Europe and the Persian Gulf region. Additional intermediary locations in Germany, Spain and Italy are being considered as well.
"This allows us to expedite movement out of Kabul and gives us flexibility from these intermediate staging bases," Taylor said. "We are appreciative of the support in this global effort from our allies and partners. We remain focused on the mission of bringing as many people home as we can, as quickly as we can."
In the United States, four U.S. military installations, including Fort Lee, Virginia; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, are now playing host to evacuees from Afghanistan.
In the past 24 hours, Taylor said, four flights landed at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, with more than 1,000 passengers.
"These passengers and their families will go to one of the four military installations, designated as processing locations," Taylor said. "All this progress stems from the teamwork and professionalism -- especially of our interagency partners here in the States. We know more hard work remains and that our personnel in Afghanistan remain vigilant, and we share the sense of urgency in this effort."
While many Afghan citizens hope to leave Afghanistan and start a new life elsewhere, there are also many Americans still in Afghanistan who want to leave. Already, several thousand have been evacuated, and continuing that mission remains a priority for the department, said Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby.
"We continue to make progress every day in getting Americans, as well as SIV applicants and vulnerable Afghans out," Kirby said. "We ... remain committed to getting any and all Americans that want to leave -- to get them out."
Kirby said with recent increases in capacity and the flow, the department has the ability to get that mission done by the end of the month.