Lot of US and other Troop’s inbound and thousand’s of American, Other Country and Afghan’s flown out….
The airport “is currently open for military flight operations as well as limited commercial flight operations,” Taylor said, and the U.S. military footprint in Kabul is expected to increase from roughly 2,500 troops Monday to roughly 4,000 troops by the end of Tuesday. President Joe Biden has deployed up to 7,000 troops in total.
Overnight, nine American C-17 transport aircraft arrived at the airport delivering equipment and roughly 1,000 troops, Taylor said. Separately, seven C-17s departed the airport carrying a total of roughly 700-800 passengers. Of that number, 165 were American citizens and the remainder were a combination of Special Immigrant Visa applicants and third country nationals.
Taylor also referenced a photo published Monday by Defense One showing roughly 640 Afghans and their families crowded inside a C-17, being lifted to safety. The image, he said, “speaks to the humanity of our troops in this mission. The skill and professionalism of our U.S. military.”
Over the next 24 hours, “the speed of evacuation will pick up,” Taylor said, with the U.S. military expected to achieve roughly “one aircraft per hour in and out” of the airport in Kabul.
“We predict that our best effort could look like 5,000 to 9,000 passengers departing per day,” he said. “But we are mindful that a number of factors influence this effort, and circumstances could change.”
While the airport itself remains secure, the situation just outside is deteriorating rapidly. Crowds of desperate Afghans are rushing the outer perimeter, which is guarded by Afghan forces, according to three people with knowledge of the situation. Multiple Afghan interpreters could not get through to the airport to catch flights out of the country because of the chaos, the people said.
Earlier in the day, gunfire broke out in the area, two of the people said. Afghan guards fired into the air and threw flash bang grenades in an attempt to disperse the crowds swarming the perimeter, one of the people said.
The Taliban’s control of Kabul and checkpoints outside the airport also are reportedly complicating U.S. evacuation efforts, with time running out to remove vulnerable Americans and Afghans ahead of Biden’s self-imposed Aug. 31 deadline for the military mission.
Taylor said Tuesday the U.S. military has “had no hostile interactions, no attack and no threat by the Taliban” thus far at the airport, adding: “We remain vigilant.”…
While the military, northern side of the airfield “is back up and running again,” Kirby said U.S. officials would continue to better secure the civilian, southern side throughout Tuesday.
“No plan is ever perfect, and no plan can be perfectly predictive in terms of what friction, what unknown aspects and factors you’re going to deal with on the backside,” he said….