Pentagon: ‘Dozens’ of family members of US troops still in Afghanistan
The Pentagon confirmed that “dozens” of family members of American troops remain in Afghanistan nearly three months after the U.S. ended its military mission in the country.
“We believe it’s certainly, most likely in the dozens,” Department of Defense (DOD) press secretary John Kirby told reporters Wednesday.
The Biden administration is in the midst of compiling a database of such relatives, as outlined in a memo sent last week by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl.
In the memo, the DOD instructs all U.S. military personnel and civilian employees with immediate family members in Afghanistan seeking evacuation to contact a department-associated email address.
The Nov. 4 memo marks the first instance the Pentagon has targeted family members as a group to be evacuated, as the State Department — which heads the evacuation effort — has previously focused on Afghan troops, interpreters and others who aided the U.S. military during the 20-year-long conflict.
The document, which became public last week after NBC News reported on its existence, was not posted to any DOD websites.
Asked why the Pentagon did not draw public attention to the memo, Kirby said it was distributed to the heads of the military departments “and we felt that that was the best communication vehicle.”
Kirby also confirmed that a group of Afghan pilots early on Wednesday morning were flown out of Tajikistan and are now in the United Arab Emirates.
The evacuees, who fled to nearby Tajikistan after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in August, are being processed for eventual admission to the United States.