So much for “they should have left earlier,” eh? A Pentagon memo acquired by NBC News shows the military scrambling to get “immediate family members” of troops out of Afghanistan after Joe Biden abandoned them in his rush to retreat. Those number in the “dozens,” NBC reports, but the number of extended family members of US troops go higher than that:
The Pentagon is stepping up efforts to get family members of U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, creating a database of the dozens who are trapped there.
On Thursday, more than two months after the U.S. military withdrew completely from Afghanistan, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl issued a memo asking any U.S. military personnel and DOD civilians with immediate family members who need help leaving Afghanistan to email his office.
The memo, obtained by NBC News, instructs service members and Defense Department civilians to email a specific address with the subject “immediate family member.” In addition to names, the emails will need to include passport, contact and other personal information about the family members so they can be added to the database.
There are still several dozen immediate family members of U.S. service members in Afghanistan, according to defense officials. Those include children, sisters and brothers, and parents. There are well over 100 extended family members still in Afghanistan, but it’s not clear how many of them want to leave the country, the officials said.
The Daily Wire’s Hank Berrien notes that there had been hints of this issue in the past. In late September, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking about the status of troops’ family members. McCaul warned at the time that “if we abandon the family members of our service men and women in Afghanistan, they will certainly be slaughtered by the Taliban,” and told Blinken that their families had contacted him about the issue:
Over the last month, I have been contacted by hundreds of Texans who are desperately trying to get friends and family members safely out of the country. While we have been able to help some, many are trapped. There are reports of several hundred of people, including American citizens, who have been waiting over a week for charted flights to take off from Mazar-i-Sharif airport.
That includes the family members of several Texans who currently serve in the military. They have been working night and day to safely evacuate their family members. But their efforts so far have not been successful. These brave men and women have volunteered to risk their lives to protect our country. Yet, now, when they need us the most, the federal government has turned our backs on them. If we abandon the family members of our service men and women in Afghanistan, they will certainly be slaughtered by the Taliban.
I am asking for you to provide me with details of how many U.S. servicemembers have family currently trapped in Afghanistan and your agencies are doing to secure their evacuation.
Did Blinken ever respond to McCaul? I contacted his office in Washington DC to find out, but have not yet heard back. When I do, I will update this post.
Regardless of whether Blinken responded, however, the Pentagon certainly knew they had abandoned dozens and perhaps hundreds of their troops’ family members. This raises all sorts of questions about the decisions that allowed these particularly vulnerable Americans to be left to the Taliban. Did Pentagon officials raise this issue with Biden at the time? Did they even object to this betrayal of their own troops?
Kudos to NBC for doing some real reporting on this disgrace. Too bad the rest of the media seems uninterested in Joe Biden’s abandonment of Americans behind Taliban lines.