The Corner

National Security & Defense

‘Do the Math. We Can’t Get Everyone Out by Then’

Crowds outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 23, 2021 (Asvaka News via Reuters)

My reader who works for a contractor in Afghanistan, and who is desperately trying to help his former employees dodge Taliban death squads and get out of the country, offers another update. (See here and here for background.)

He reports some good news. “The State Department P2 system seems to still be functioning. Trust me, it is getting pounded with thousands of e-mails a day. My focus is split between P2 referrals and getting our former employees on evacuation flight manifests.”

My reader praises the work of Samaritan’s Purse, so if you’re looking for an organization to support during this crisis, that seems to be a particularly good one. He says he and his company, another defense contractor, and Samaritan’s Purse have “partnered on three flights that brought out 700 people in one day. . . . Our team is blessed with project managers, and retired tradesmen who have all stepped up to the plate to help with the data confirmation and processing of our Afghan staff. They have the hearts of warriors.”

That’s it for the good news, though. The bad news is that he writes, “My days have been consumed. I feel guilty sleeping — but if I don’t, my effectiveness will suffer and it will be worse. A week until the Biden deadline. Do the math. We can’t get everyone out by then. But I can’t think about that right now; I have to stay focused on the mission at hand and stay in the moment.”

Technically, it’s the Taliban’s deadline, and in his comments on Sunday, Biden suggested the U.S. could continue evacuation operations beyond that date: “There’s discussions going on among us and the military about extending. Our hope is we will not have to extend, but there are going to be discussions, I suspect, on how far along we are in the process.”

But my reader’s assessment lines up with that of Representative Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, after attending a briefing last night. “Given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated, the number of SIVs, the number of others who are members of the Afghan press, civil society leaders, women leaders . . . it’s hard for me to imagine all of that can be accomplished between now and the end of the month.”

This morning, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said the group has not agreed to extend the deadline for evacuation, and said the United States is not allowed to evacuate skilled Afghans.

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