Nine C-17s arrive in Kabul to evacuate Americans and allies

FILE - The Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 1, 2021. On Sunday, American C-17 transport planes bringing in Marines — some 200 per load — landed at the airport, then quickly filled with embassy staffers and returned to the skies. Urgent texts and emails from Americans stranded in Kabul flooded inboxes in Washington. (Kiana Hayeri/The New York Times)

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FILE - The Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 1, 2021. On Sunday, American C-17 transport planes bringing in Marines — some 200 per load — landed at the airport, then quickly filled with embassy staffers and returned to the skies. Urgent texts and emails from Americans stranded in Kabul flooded inboxes in Washington. (Kiana Hayeri/The New York Times)

Unclear if any from 445th Airlift Wing are participating

Nine C-17 strategic airlift airplanes arrived at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan overnight to evacuate Americans and allies from Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Henry Taylor, director of operations for the joint staff, said in a briefing at the Pentagon Tuesday.

Nine C-17s arrived overnight delivering equipment and personnel, Taylor said. By the end of the day Tuesday, there will be more than 4,000 U.S. troops in Kabul, he said.

And seven C-17s departed overnight, with 700 to 800 passengers, including 165 American citizens, he also said.

The speed of evacuation will pick up, Taylor predicted. At about noon Tuesday, about one aircraft per hour was going “in and out” of HKIA, Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan’s capital. The mission’s “best effort” will be 5,000 to 9,000 passengers leaving the airport every day, depending on weather and circumstances, he said.

“I’m tremendously proud of the herculean efforts we’ve seen by our U.S. military so far,” Taylor said.

“Airlift is not going to be a limiting factor,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

A spokeswoman for the 445th Airlift Wing, which has an inventory of nine C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, told the Dayton Daily News Monday that the wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base had been instructed to stand by for a possible “tasking.”

She referred questions to the public affairs office for Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and a spokeswoman in that office said the military is not confirming details of ongoing or potential operations.

“The airfield is secure right now,” Taylor said.

U.S. commanders at HKIA are charged with securing the airport and evacuating people quickly and safely, Kirby said.

“They will and should take whatever interactions they need to accomplish that mission,” he said.

Asked if American forces have an agreement with the Taliban to allow safe passage of evacuees to the airport through the city of Kabul, which the Taliban holds, Kirby said U.S. commanders are in communication with Taliban commanders.

“We trust them to have the interactions they feel they need to have,” Kirby said.

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