Washington is deploying an additional 3,000 military troops to Afghanistan to assist with the evacuation of US civilian personnel from its embassy in Kabul and Afghan special immigrant visa (SIV) applicants still inside the country, the Pentagon and State Department announced on 12 August.
Over the coming 24 to 48 hours, three infantry battalions currently inside the US Central Command (USCENTCOM) area of responsibility – one from the US Army and two from the US Marine Corps – will land at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby during a press briefing.
These 3,000 US troops will join the approximately 650 military personnel remaining in the Central Asian country, with the combined force set to secure the airport, alongside Turkish troops, and ensure that some of the embassy staff can leave the country.
“The Turks are still in the lead of security at the airport [and] we have … US security forces at the airport, including some aviation elements,” Kirby told reporters. “These 3,000 [troops] would be going to bolster that presence and to make sure that the airport is secure enough to facilitate the movement of all these people over the next couple of weeks.”
The additional troops will be deployed with “some measure of self-defense equipment” such as their carried weapons, machine guns, and mortars, noted Kirby, adding that the Pentagon anticipates the need for additional military airlift to ferry people out of the country.