On Thursday, 16 Republican senators joined onto a letter calling for President Joe Biden to order U.S. troops to go out beyond their secure perimeter at the Hamid Karzai International Airport and “provide safe and secure passageway through any Taliban barriers for all American citizens and all eligible Afghan partners to appropriate evacuation points.”
Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN.); John Boozman (R-AR.); Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV); Kevin Cramer (R-ND); Joni Ernst (R-IA); Deb Fischer (R-NE.); Chuck Grassley (R-IA); John Hoeven (R-ND); James Lankford (R-OK); Marco Rubio (R-FL); Rick Scott (R-FL); Thom Tillis (R-NC); Pat Toomey (R-PA); Tommy Tuberville (R-AL); and Roger Wicker (R-MI) joined onto the letter, organized by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), calling “devote all means necessary to ensure every American citizen and all eligible Afghan partners are successfully evacuated.”
“We are particularly perturbed that your administration is failing to guarantee the safety of Americans and our Afghan partners still in the country,” the letter from 16 senators reads. “Press reports indicate that while American citizens are being urged to make their way to Hamid Karzai International Airport, the United States government cannot guarantee their security, and has offered no support or guidance other than wishing them luck.”
On Friday, Biden insisted that he would “mobilize every resource necessary” to bring all Americans home if they wanted to come home.
However, on Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “We don’t have the capability to go out and collect large numbers of people,” outside the Kabul airport perimeter.
“The forces that we have are focused on security at the airfield,” Austin said Wednesday. “I don’t want to detract from that. I don’t want to do anything to make the airfield less safe.”
The Taliban has set up checkpoints around the Kabul airport and have beaten and intimidated people attempting to get through. The U.S. State Department has, thus far, relied on the assurances of the Taliban that they will let Americans through to the airport. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said the Taliban has been checking Americans for their passports before they can enter the airport.
The joint GOP letter came hours after fellow Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) sent his own letter in which he said, “It’s time for President Biden to authorize the military to stop this rolling humiliation, expand the perimeter at Kabul airport, and rescue Americans trapped behind enemy lines.”
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) also issued a statement, calling for Biden to “Give American troops the power to push back the airport perimeter and create safe, American-controlled corridors to the airport.”
“We cannot wait for Americans to find their own way,” Sasse added. “Go get them.”
While U.S. forces have maintained their security perimeter at the Kabul airport, British troops have reportedly begun to venture outside the airport, in efforts to evacuate their own trapped citizens. The Telegraph reported that within hours of arriving at the Kabul airport, British paratroopers were out on the streets of Kabul and “at times the military were forced to get out of their vehicles to move displaced people out of their way so that they could continue onwards to find those they had been sent to rescue.”
Those trapped British nationals were reportedly instructed by the U.K.’s Foreign Office to report to a secure location, where they were picked up by the British soldiers.
During a Thursday interview between Fox News’ Bret Baier and Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, Baier asked Kirby about the British rescue operations and why U.S. troops could not carry out similar operations.
“If the British can take their paratroopers and they can get in their vehicles and go get their people to the airport, why can’t the U.S. do that?” Baier asked.
Kirby responded by saying, “We have not seen any great impediments to the safe passage that the Taliban have agreed to facilitate. Americans are getting through those checkpoints, and they are getting on to the base, on the airfield, and they are being flown out of Kabul. I won’t speak to potential future operations that may or may not be conducted. What I can tell you is the operation we’re conducting now — and that is to keep that airfield open and running. And Americans are getting through the lines. They are getting onto planes.”