Volunteer organizations take charge of Afghan evacuations

With more than 300 Americans stranded in Afghanistan, volunteer groups have taken on the task of helping those who wish to evacuate to leave the country – while the State Department has reportedly been silent on a plan to bring in citizens and allies. in the USA.

Task Force Argo, an organization of about 150 volunteers and 4,000 on their replacement manifesto made up of Defense Department personnel, active duty members, veterans and intelligence analysts, made an effort to evacuate as many Americans and Afghan allies from the country ruled by the Taliban. as possible since the United States ended official evacuation efforts in August.

Although they facilitated the evacuation of around 1,800 people, group members warn their work is “not sustainable” without help from the State Department.

“We look forward to the State Department telling us exactly what the pipeline is and the plan for US citizens, green card holders, and SIV approved people in Afghanistan as we still don’t know,” he said. said Jesse Jensen, a former JSOC. Land Force Commander, told the Washington Examiner.

“We also look forward to them negotiating water lily countries to keep these people while they are screened and background checks are completed before they can come to the United States.”

In their efforts, Task Force Argo used a series of shelters around the country to hide potential evacuees as they gathered the documents necessary for their successful departure. Once the correct documentation is obtained, the evacuees are loaded onto buses, taken to an airport and then flown to a friendly neighboring country.

The Argo Task Force warns that their work is “not sustainable” without the help of the State Department.
Anne Levasseur / AFP via Getty Images

According to Jensen, the organization “coordinated everything digitally on secure, encrypted chat rooms with no real command and control structure other than a group of volunteers who came together to save those in need.”

He cited “personal relationships” as another way of “negotiating a safe passage and a safe harbor”.

To help with the evacuations, members of volunteer groups like Task Force Argo and the Special Operations Association of America invested their own resources while also raising money from the merchandise.

The evacuation efforts come about two months after the United States completed the full troop withdrawal on August 31 and ended official evacuation efforts for the Americans and their Afghan allies, leaving thousands in the country .

Jensen told the Washington Examiner that the end of the war in Afghanistan, which ended in withdrawal, was an “absolute disaster”, calling it “an absolute failure”.

In recent weeks, the State Department has been vague about the number of Americans and Afghan allies remaining in Afghanistan, prompting more criticism of the United States’ handling of the crisis.

United States Special Representative for Reconciliation in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad.
Former US Special Representative for Reconciliation in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said “hundreds” of Americans may still be in Afghanistan.
Jonathan Ernst / REUTERS

On Friday, however, the department informed Congressional staff that it had been in contact with 368 Americans who remain in Afghanistan – 178 of whom want to leave, a significantly higher number than the Biden administration previously said were left behind. for account.

Administration officials previously said about 100 Americans who wanted to be evacuated remained in the area.

The official number of Afghan allies left behind has not been released, but some organizations working on their resettlement in the United States have said that number could reach 75,000.

Yet some take the State Department number with a grain of salt.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the former United States special representative for reconciliation in Afghanistan, said CBS ‘Face the Nation’ Sunday that “hundreds” of Americans could stay.

“The truth is we don’t know… but my judgment is that there could still be hundreds of Americans out there,” he said.

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