A female Fort Bliss soldier was assaulted on Sunday by a group of male Afghanistan evacuees at Fort Bliss’s Doña Ana Range Complex in New Mexico, officials confirmed to American Military News. The incident was first reported by Pop Smoke Media on Friday.
Fort Bliss public affairs director Lt. Col. Allie Payne told American Military News the soldier was supporting Operation Allies Welcome when she was assaulted. Payne also confirmed that the soldier sustained injuries.
“We can confirm a female service member supporting Operation Allies Welcome reported being assaulted on Sept. 19 by a small group of male evacuees at the Doña Ana Complex in New Mexico,” Payne confirmed in a statement. “We take the allegation seriously and appropriately referred the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
The FBI is investigating the incident, but details regarding the extent of the assault or the soldier’s injuries have not been released.
“The safety and well-being of our service members, as well as all of those on our installations, is paramount,” Payne’s statement continued. “We immediately provided appropriate care, counseling and support to the service member.”
Payne said Task Force-Bliss is implementing additional security measures at the Doña Ana Complex in the wake of the assault, including increased health and safety patrols, additional lighting and an enforced buddy system.
Task Force-Bliss will also “cooperate fully with the FBI and will continue to ensure the service member reporting the assault is fully supported.”
According to Pop Smoke Media, roughly 1,000 troops are providing support to the Afghan evacuee operation at the Doña Ana Complex, which is an auxiliary of Fort Bliss. The facility has been expanded to accommodate more than 10,000 evacuees.
On Wednesday, a reporter asked Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby if Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is investigating multiple reports of women being harassed by Afghan evacuees.
“Some of the women are being harassed by former Afghan soldiers. Members of Congress are asking Secretary Austin to investigate what’s going on. Can you say if he’s received that letter asking for the investigation in any sense of the way ahead,” the reporter asked.
“We are certainly aware of these reports, and we take it very, very seriously,” Kirby responded.
Two Afghan evacuees who were transported to the United States as part of President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan have been charged after one allegedly attempted to rape a child and the other strangled his spouse, the Department of Justice revealed in a statement on Wednesday.
Also this week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that just seven percent of those evacuated from Afghanistan are U.S. citizens.