The Pentagon admitted last week that President Joe Biden has yet to retrieve dozens of immediate family members of U.S. troops and Defense Department civilian employees that the administration abandoned in Afghanistan during the disastrous withdrawal and evacuation from Kabul in late August.
According to a November 4 memo issued by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl and obtained by NBC News this week, the DoD has placed a “high priority” on facilitating the departure of immediate family members.
“Immediate family members eligible for facilitated departure from Afghanistan are defined by U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services as the spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens and LPR military personnel and DoD civilian employees,” the memo explained.
Defense officials said several dozen immediate family members are still in Afghanistan, NBC News reported, and there are “well over 100 extended family members still in Afghanistan, but it’s not clear how many of them want to leave the country.”
In September, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, warning that abandoned family members of service men and women “will certainly be slaughtered by the Taliban.”
“The United States’ deadly and chaotic exit from Afghanistan has left a stain on our country for generations. Many Americans have been left behind by the Biden Administration and thousands, if not tens of thousands of our Afghan partners and their families were also abandoned,” the congressman wrote.
McCaul said he had been contacted by “hundreds of Texans” desperately trying to evacuate friends and family from Afghanistan.
“While we have been able to help some, many are trapped. There are reports of several hundred of people, including American citizens, who have been waiting over a week for charted flights to take off from Mazar-i-Sharif airport,” his letter stated.
“That includes the family members of several Texans who currently serve in the military. They have been working night and day to safely evacuate their family members. But their efforts so far have not been successful. These brave men and women have volunteered to risk their lives to protect our country. Yet, now, when they need us the most, the federal government has turned our backs on them,” McCaul continued. “If we abandon the family members of our service men and women in Afghanistan, they will certainly be slaughtered by the Taliban.”