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Milley says U.S. planning for potential evacuation of Afghan translators from region

Milley says U.S. planning for potential evacuation of Afghan translators from region
© Greg Nash

Army Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyNATO training mission for Afghan security forces to move forward after US withdrawal Concerns grow over China's Taiwan plans Overnight Defense: Austin and Milley talk budget, Afghanistan, sexual assault and more at wide-ranging Senate hearing MORE told reporters this week that the Defense Department and State Department was making plans to evacuate Afghans who had worked for the U.S. government.

As NBC News reports, Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on his plane Wednesday that it was clear a "significant" number of Afghans who had worked for the U.S. military as interpreters or in other roles who might be in danger due to their work.

"There are plans being developed very, very rapidly here, not just interpreters but a lot of other people that have worked with the United States," Milley said.

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"Their safety could be at risk. And we recognize that that's a very important task, is to ensure that we remain faithful to them and that we do what's necessary to ensure their protection and, if necessary, get them out of the country if that's what they want to do," Milley said.

It was the first time a senior administration official has confirmed possible plans of such evacuations.

"While I welcome these comments, we need to see action sooner rather than later," Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.), who is an advocate for evacuating Afghan partners, told NBC. "We need to show the world we reward those who help us against the enemy rather than leave them behind."

"I can tell you we have no plans for evacuations at this time. The State Department is processing SIV applications in Kabul. They are focused on ensuring that the system functions quickly and consistent with U.S. security and other application requirements," a spokesperson for the National Security Council told NBC.

It is unclear how this operation would be affected by the current timeline of the U.S. military's withdrawal from Afghanistan. Military officials told The New York Times this week that the withdrawal may be completed as early as mid-July, months ahead of President BidenJoe BidenFormer Rep. Rohrabacher says he took part in Jan. 6 march to Capitol but did not storm building Saudis picked up drugs in Cairo used to kill Khashoggi: report Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting MORE's Sept. 11 deadline. However, Pentagon officials declined to confirm the expedited timeline.

"The president’s direction was clear, to be complete with the withdrawal by early September," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters. "We’re moving at pace. I don’t have anything more specific to add with respect to schedule."