tv CNN Newsroom With Ana Cabrera CNN August 20, 2021 10:00am-11:00am PDT
to a u.s. military. there was a backup and the commander on the ground has just issued the order to recommence. outside the airport taliban fighters rule the streets. it's not known how many americans and afghans are -- correspondents are covering all angles of the developing story. i want to start with jeff zeleny who got reporting about flights about to resume. what can you tell us? >> we're learning from the white house that the flights are going to resume shortly. at least that is the plan at the kabul airport. white house official telling me that there was, indeed, a backup in processing all the people
flying out to third party countries. and also looking for other places to fly some of these evacuees. that is what led to a pause. the white house described it as a brief pause. our clarissa ward and team on the ground in kabul described this as an eight-hour delay. hardly a brief pause. it gives you a sense of how difficult this process is to bring people in, fly them to the countries and process them. that caused a bit of a backup. a significant backup, actually, but the white house is saying that president biden will announce that the flights are resuming. they will resume. the order has been give ton start the flights up again. but the question here is is the state department, is this government bureaucracy working as fast as it needs to here? that's one thing on the minds of officials here at the white house as they've been meeting with the president and others, trying to get some of this backlog unjammed, if you will.
that's been a challenge of the morning. this is just the airport we're talking. never mind the people trying to get to the airport, still trying to go through taliban control. that still needs to be addressed. we're told the president will be delivering remarks this afternoon, talking about the process there and he's also staying here at the white house today. he was planning on going to wilmington, delaware for a three-day weekend for vacation. that's not going to happen. he's staying at the white house to keep managing this situation here. as far as we're told, the flights should be resuming shortly. >> and if you will, kylie is in qatar nearby and the site of where there are ongoing talks between the state department and taliban. sam, set the scene on what's happening in afghanistan. we saw the images of the baby being handed over barbed wire to military officials. that really does speak to the desperation and the urgency and the panic still there happening on the ground in afghanistan.
>> urgency, panic and desperation. absolutely. and with this eight-hour pause in movement, we think mostly toward qatar, where officials are saying the american side of the base is rapidly filling up or reaching capacity. they're comfortable. they can absorb more in qatar. that's called comfort in a hot environment, indeed in kabul where there are thousands, tens of thousands of people hoping to get out of the country and clarissa ward ran the gauntlet into the airport. this is what she came across. >> we actually went through today, and we were very lucky, because we went through a gate where there were relatively few people, and we went at a very early hour in the morning. but i can tell you it was one of the more harrowing experiences i've ever had. because the desperation when
that fwgate opened j just a jar and there's just a rush. people pushing, and you're desperately trying to stand up. holding hands where my leagues and some of our local staff who are trying to get out. and everybody screaming and children are screaming. and on the other side of the war, they're screaming to get back. i mean, it's just unconscionable that there are women that are carrying newborn babies, and i just. at some point, i'm at a loss of words, honestly. >> now, ana, organizing an evacuation on this scale for a developed nation who hadn't just had a violent change of government would be one thing. the taliban are insisting they're not standing in the way of people evacuating. they're insisting that they'd like to see better organization of the evacuation.
but at the same time, there have been allegations against the taliban that they have been trying to hunt people down, associated with the nato involvement there and, indeed, with the government. there are people passing through the taliban check points showing papers that obviously prove their connection to the united states and her allies. and some are getting through. but nowhere near enough. >> barbara, the pentagon had set this expectation that eventually they'd be able to fly out somewhere in the range of 4,000 to 9,000 people a day. it seems like there is still a jam up. what is the biggest challenge as far as what you understand right now for the u.s. to carry out these evacuations? >> well, it seems after today there's jamups everywhere. and the pentagon not yet speaking plainly, speaking publicly, very candidly about what is going wrong. so let's review for a minute. the gate at the airport were closed for hours earlier today,
and why? of course, desperate afghans backing up outside the gate trying to get in, inside the airport a jamup of more than 10,000 people we are told, trying to get on planes, get processed and get out. no planes took off because they had nowhere to go. the landing sites in qatar and other possible locations are full. the administration is expected to announce it has new additional landing sites. one that we are hearing very strongly is ramp stain in germany. that should open up more capacity. but speaking plainly, the pentagon, the u.s. military, they have for decades said their expertise is in planning. planning a mission, carrying it out. knowing what they must do to carry out that mission. and right now each and every day we see something not being done, because they either don't -- over the last several days they haven't had the people, the
resources, the aircraft, the personnel, the processing capability, and, of course, the very tough issue of getting afghans through those taliban checkpoints outside the airport. the u.s. continuing to talk to the taliban about trying to get that part of the process moving more freely, getting the taliban to back off from their very violent tactics. but right now it is hard to see where all of this goes. there are less than two weeks to august 31st which continues to be the stated biden administration timeline, deadline for getting out. if they decide they want to stay later for all practical purposes, they are going to have to get the taliban to agree to it. >> david, this is the backdrop as the president prepares to speak to the american people. any moment now, be his second formal address to the american people since kabul fell. he also had the interview with abc this week.
what will you be listening for? >> yeah. his third attempt to explain to the american people what they're seeing across their screens and give them confidence that he is in command of this moment. and i think as you heard, he has some news to bring as jeff zeleny was reporting about these flights starting up again after this long pause. so i would expect to hear a president, a commander in chief, talk operationally, because when george stephanopoulos in the interview, he said his first reaction was we need to get our arms around and get the airport operating. so i would imagine we're going to hear from him some operational details in that way the show that he's on top of this. i'm also listening carefully to see if he bing brings a little more heart in his response to the images we've seen playing out across the screens all week long at that airport. i don't think we've heard that much from his heart on that subject, just yet.
and, of course, as he did on monday, as he did in the interview on wednesday, i have no doubt that we will hear him recommit to his overall strategy here that it is the right course for the united states of america, and the u.s. national security interests to pull all forces out of afghanistan. >> david, there have been multiple press briefings this week with the pentagon, the state department, the daily white house briefing, of course. what questions still haven't been answered? >> there are a number. one is why is this process we're seeing now of getting the allies, those who worked for the american forces out of kabul really revving up now instead of back in april or may after the president announced the deadline for the american withdrawal? the timeline just doesn't add up. because the pace at which they were moving before the taliban
took over got only 2000 or less than 10% of the applicants for the visas out of the country for consideration. meaning that the military if it stuck to its august 31st deadline, would have been gone and left these people to the mercies of the taliban or whoever was in control of kabul and other cities without protection while their visas were being considered. and that timeline just doesn't wash. now the president is going to have to make a case that he's doing everything he can. it looks like the u.s. is in control inside the walls of the airport. but outside the walls, we had no presence. we have no sovereignty. we have no authority, and so the bigger problem which is getting people to the airport, is the one i'm going -- that's the problem i want to hear how he plans to address. jake sullivan, his national
security adviser said the other day that any american citizen who was there, who wants to get out, they'll get out. but, of course, many of those who spread around afghanistan. >> right. and at this point, according to the white house and pentagon, those who have been speaking this week, they said they don't have the ability right now to go beyond the airport in order to go in and help those people who might be in hiding and hunkering down for the time being. as we await the president, we are told the vice president kamala will be alongside president biden during today's remarks. she hasn't made any public comments about afghanistan this week. in april she said she remains the last person in the room when big decisions are made. including when biden decided to withdraw troops by september 11th. >> we know from the president and white house he seeks out his vice president, kamala harris,
for advice, her point of view. he very much wants her to be the last person in the room. she has been in the briefings. we didn't see her on monday when he gave his speech, but as you said, we will see her by his side today. we don't know what her advice has been. we know she agreed with troops should withdraw when she was running for president, she was in line with what president biden ended up doing. and he said that she is all in on this decision. what is interesting is what will come in the coming days. she is set to leave today for a foreign trip. this is her second foreign trip as vice president. we know the first one had some bumps in the road, and we know the backdrop of this one is incredibly important, given how shaky the status of this withdrawal is and this massive mission that the biden administration is undertaking. she has to go to vietnam and singapore and reassure american
allies that america is good for its word. it will remain a dependentable ally in the face of what we're seeing in afghanistan. we'll see her on the international stage in the coming days. and we know that this is the vice president who isn't steeped in foreign policy in the way that obviously president biden is and was as vice president. so that i think is a coming challenge and we'll see how she does. but for now, we don't know what her counsel is in on afghanistan. maybe in years to come, we'll find that out. often times, she's said that she is a loyal person to this president, and that she supports his decision, and we'll see how she does on this foreign trip coming up in a couple days? . >> everybody please stand by. we are waiting for the president to speak. we will bring that to you live. meantime, a welcome surge in the pandemic. an increase in vaccinations.
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from coupons to lower cost options. plus earn up to $50 extrabucks rewards each year just for filling, at cvs pharmacy. images of the white house. any moment president biden will be addressing the nation as chaos continues to unfold in afghanistan. we're also keeping an eye on developments with the pandemic and finally some good news. for the first time since early july, more than 1 million vaccines were administered in a single day. the pace is about 73% higher than a month ago. and cnn's senior medical correspondent is all over this.
elizabeth, nearly 60% of all eligible people in the u.s. are now fully vaccinated. but it is still the unvaccinated that continue to overwhelm our health care system. how long could it be before we start to see the impact of those who are getting vaccinated? >> you know, every vaccinated body is a good thing. that's one person fewer who is as likely to get hospitalized and is likely to die and likely to spread this horrible virus. but we need to keep going. so let's take a look again at the graphic that you just showed. if you look on the right-hand side, that's where we are today with vaccinations. >> if let's look at who we have left to convince. there's a large number of people just not getting this message. about 84 million americans who are eligible for a covid shot haven't even gotten a single
shot yet. 84 million people who don't understand the death and destruction this virus has done. that's 30 % of the eligible population. 30% of people 12 and up who are just not getting this. and this is the up swing, the good up tick on i suspect that's because they're watching people die. and they're watching people in the hospital. and they don't want to die. it's unfortunate it's taken this to convince them to get vaccinated. maybe that's what it takes. i think one thing we've learned here is in a way the science of the vaccine was easy. i think the cdc and others are having a hard way messaging this. how do we reach those 84 million people? >> there is a new study today showing that loot of people were refusing emergency transport to hospitals in the early days of the pandemic, even when they were experiencing life threatening emergencies. tell us more about this. >> some of these folks in the study were having chest pain and
wouldn't get into an ambulance. this is a study that looked at about 8 0,000 calls to 9-1-1 in the detroit area. all the calls were made to 9-1-1. someone had chest pain or other symptoms. 16,000 patients refused to get on an ambulance despite having symptoms and 2000 of those people died. that shows you sort of the difficult situation that these emt workers were in, the patients. it's a difficult situation. even though an ambulance had been called. >> what's awful is we're starting to see hospitals again overwhelmed and hospital staff saying we can't deal with the crush of people who are coming into our icus. elizabeth, thank you for being with us. starting today, if you live in san francisco, or even if you just plan to visit, bring your proof of vaccination. it is now required at places
like bars, restaurants, and gyms. dan simon is live for us. are businesses ready? >> i think so, ana. san francisco second base a city from the very beginning, people were wildly accepting of masks and vaccines. nearly 80% of the eligible population in the city is fully vaccinated. one of the highest vaccination rates in the country. so all indicators are that businesses, people ready to accept these new rules. let's talk about what they are. if you go to a bar, a restaurant, a club, theater, or a gym, you need to show your vaccination card. you can either show the physical card or you can show a photo of it. many restaurants and bars in the city have already been doing this for the past few weeks. they decided to do this independently. now it's a bit of a different
story. also we've had support the bar and restaurant industry for a very long time. it's the least we could do. >> i think a lot of people are going to have a stink about it. i think a lot of people will be happy they're in an environment with like-minded people to feel like they're taking all the precautions they can to stay safe. >> now, while customers have to comply with the rules beginning today, employees, staff at the various businesses, they actually have a little bit of time to come to compliance and to be fully vaccinated. for them, it is october 13th. and this is similar to what the mayor enacted in new york where you have to show your vaccination card. one key difference between new york and san francisco, here you have to be fully vaccinated. both doses, new york just one dose. >> dan simon in san francisco. thank you. we're keeping an eye on the white house. the president prepares to address the american people. the race to evacuate afghanistan is underway.
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news. the president getting ready to address the american people as chaos grips afghanistan. we'll be bringing you his speech live. i want to continue our conversation with analysts. let's start with jeff zeleny at the white house. why don't we know how many americans are still in afghanistan? >> well, that has been a question that's been asked around washington for the last several days, and officials have been unwilling and, in fact, unable to put a number to it. but there's a good explanation. you have to register as a u.s. citizen when you go into afghanistan. so with the embassy, of course, before kabul fell just a few days ago, but you do not have to deregister. so the last several days have been chaotic. there have been charter planes leaving. 11 left last evening alone with the help of the u.s. military. so there could be some americans on those flights. in fact, there likely are americans on those flights. that's why there is not necessarily an exact accounting
for how many americans remain in afghanistan. it's something that the state department, the pentagon, and here at the white house, officials have been trying to get a better estimate of that, but they do believe the numbers are dwindling and are quite low. we'll see if the president addressing that specifically when he talks shortly in the east room of the white house. but ana, i am told he is going to give an operational update. that means he's going to essentially explain exactly what the u.s. military is doing on the ground at the airport more than 5,000 u.s. troops are there. they've been working for the last several days. i'm told he's not likely to say where the evacuees are going to be flying. they are looking for other locations as we know there was a halt in operations for about eight hours or so because they simply could not find places to fly. so i do not expect the president to necessarily get in the yeeds on that. but he'll be doing through a list of how the u.s. military is trying to bring americans and some afghan allies to safety and
get them out of the country. but it also affords the president an opportunity to essentially reset what his administration has done and try and get on the offensive. he's been essentially very defiant and defensive all week long about that -- his strategy for withdrawing troops from afghanistan. widely popular, but the execution, many questions remain on that. so his tone will certainly be interesting when he addresses the nation and the world shortly, but that is one of the explanations why they can't say exactly why how many americans are still there. although, they do believe as the small number the bigger question is how many afghan allies and partners will be able to be air lifted out in the next two weeks. >> and that's something he's supposed to address according to what the white house initially put out the remarks were goipg to be about. the president has been under fire by not just republicans but democrats as well. are you surprised more
democratic lawmakers aren't speaking out in the president's defense? >> i mean, i think you have heard from a lot of key democrats on capitol hill who will be chairing committee hearings starting next week. so there is clearly an opportunity here for congress to perform its oversight function of the administration, and even though they are loyal biden supporters, these democratic chairman and chair women, they are going to do their jobs in that way. they've made clear, and as jeff was saying, so many questions still linger about the execution that there's nothing that president biden is going to say today that's going to make those committee hearings next week when we see secretary blinken and secretary austin go up to capitol hill go away. i mean, these questions are still going to be asked, and accountability is still going to be demanded from the legislative branch, and the white house is keenly aware of that. this moment is for joe biden on a third attempt this week to
show total demand of what is going on right now, and the plan to bring it to a safe resolution by the time that august 31st deadly comes around. and an opportunity also for us to hear from him. we know his priority as everybody would say it should be are american citizens. we've heard from many of his administration about the moral able obligation to also help the afghan allies and families. those that helped the u.s. over the last 20 years. we haven't heard as much about that from the president himself. and i'm curious to see if he addresses that today. >> and as we talk about the tone that this president has set since the fall of kabul. he's been defiant and said there's been no mistake. if we step back and think about four presidents who have overseen the war in afghanistan. president biden says he would
have brought all americans home, even if former president trump couldn't have negotiated the withdrawal. why do you think he's digging into this? >> well, president biden has long-thought that this war had spun out of control. that the initial mission had gone beyond what it was to a kind of nation building. that's essentially where americans are too. if you look at polling, at least a decade going back now, americans turned against this war, essentially saying it hasn't been a war worth fighfighting even as obama grappled with this and biden all along said this was not something america could do and should do, and we're seeing that on our screens now. that nation building isn't possible in a place like afghanistan. it might not be possible at all when you're trying to graft one culture onto another culture. so i think you'll see him sort
of remake that argument. it's probably the strongest part of his speech and his public statements over the last couple days, making that argument about why troops should withdraw, and also saying that listen, the united states can continue to do counterterrorism even if they're not boots on the ground. that's something that will be interesting to hear him address, too. i think we've heard from a lot of experts. it will be much more difficult to do that kind of counterterrorism if you don't have a real footprint in afghanistan. so we'll see what he says today, and if americans are still with him in terms of believing that he is a competent president. that's what he sold. and not only competence, but also expertise in foreign policy. i think his credibility at this point is taking a bit of a bit, not only from democrats but certainly republicans as well because of the poor execution of this withdrawal. >> i mean, it is chaotic. it is messy. the pictures are heart breaking
and infuriating. the polling does show the majority of americans say the war in afghanistan is not worth fighting and coming back to something that you had said previously about could this have started earlier in terms of the withdrawal and the evacuation after not just american citizens in afghanistan but also afghan allies, the president has spoken a little bit about that in recent days saying that apparently it was the afghan government who urged america not to do a mass evacuation prior to a larger withdrawal closer to the date, because they were fearful that that would create a sense of lack of confidence in the afghan government. and so i guess, you know, it's easy to be the monday morning quarterback. right? what more could have been done to avoid this current chaos. >> well, that tension was definitely there. the now former president of afghanistan -- he fled last weekend -- had been to the white
house in late june, saw president biden at that time. and asked him to be pretty conservative about getting people out of the country, particularly those who worked for americans. and to be pretty cautious in how much they publicized it. he was clearly sensitive to the thought that this could become a self-fulfilling prophesy if it appeared that the united states was giving up on afghanistan, that then the afghan forces would give up and the government would fall. which ultimately, of course, is what happened. so the u.s. was being cautious on it. they did offer him at that time continued military backup. and they did that. i think one of the big questions that will be haunting us for some time is that even if you believe that the president's logic was solid here, that there
wasn't much more we could accomplish in afghanistan, that we hadn't already accomplished or failed to in 20 years, that seeing the last americans leave would basically kick the legs out from underneath a afghan force that barely had much will to fight to begin with. i think that's going to be one of the big questions we're going to have to go examine. for the president today, you know, he's kept falling back on his original logic to get out of afghanistan. as you pointed out, that is something americans support. i think the big question today will be can he reassert the kons ept that he now has a plan for getting autoamericans out and for getting out the afghans who had been loyal and served the u.s. and that second part is going to really be the hardest. >> and again, that deadline is creeping ever closer. if all americans aren't
evacuated by august 31st, that deadline, the president has indicated the u.s. will still continue those efforts. how big of a deal would that be? >> i'm sorry. i lost you for a moment there. i had a technical issue. well, it would be huge, because first, they have to start by essentially getting the taliban permission to do it. and they don't know how many americans are still there because not everybody registers with the embassy and people leave the country and don't tell the embassy they've left. so working through that list of exactly who is there and where they are. if there are people outside of kabul, that is extremely problematic. even to go help people in kabul get to the airport, you have to have vehicles. you have to have security. how long do you wait for all of that? how long will the taliban have
patience to have the americans there? and don't forget, there is considerable concern about potential threats from isis and al qaeda operatives in the country. the pentagon is very clear in its mind that they believe even if there is not current intelligence about that, they have to plan against the possibility of that, of an attack against the airport. so it's a tradeoff, because the longer you stay, the greater the risk. >> sam kylie, you say the president needs to address the anger and the discomfort around nato. explain. >> well, today the foreign minister and nato secretary general, and if you sort of interpret the diplomatic language that nato likes to use, the secretary general saying there will have to be a serious examination of the role that nato played in afghanistan. and that was actually in response largely to our own
melissa bell's questions asking him whether the chapter five mandate upon which the international community particularly in the form of nato came in behind the attack on the united states, one for all, all for one, and joined the battle against al qaeda and afghanistan in that country was matched by a similar commitment to allies when they're pulling out. now, the united states habiterly criticize -- bitterly criticized by the members of the government, members of the ruling party in the united kingdom. very bitter, indeed, about the manner in which the united states pulled out. not least in the lack of communication with boris johnson. it was not clear that boris johnson refused to even properly address questions as to when he was told whether or not he asked for more time and whether or not the united kingdom was in any way part of the decision making to withdraw u.s. forces. of course, u.s. forces being the
main force for security and air support in that country leaving nato naked. on top of that, nato having an internal reckoning as to how it might conduct operations in the future without what in the view of many generals and i've spoken to a lot of them, they now see the united states as something of an unreliable ally. something within nato that was once inconceivable and is now on the lips of many generals. >> and there's obviously so much more for us to discuss. i'm going to try to squeeze in a break. the president was expected to make the remarks around 1:00 today. 1:00 was the timeline we were given. we are still waiting for him to come to the podium. we will take those remarks live just as soon as we see the president. stay with us. you're watching cnn's special kovrm. coverage. ittle as $25 a month. and the best part? it's p powered by verizon. but it gets crazier. bring a friend every month, and get every month for $5. which is why i brought them. two $5-a-months right here. (both) hey.
again, we continue do monoer the and wait the president's remarks on afghanistan as soon as we get those, as soon as he comes forward, we will make sure you don't miss a word of what he says. i want you to know what's happening in other parents of the country. this may be a first nationwide. a california school district says come november coronavirus
vaccines will be mandatory for all eligible students and staff. joining us now is the superintendent for culver city unified schools. this is the district requiring vaccines. and also joining us is the school board president. it's great to have both of you with us. thank you for taking the time. i know it's stressful as you get ready for students to return. how did you come to the decision and how many students does this requirement apply to? >> approximately -- well, first, let me address the -- why did we come to this point? i don't think it's anything new. from the beginning of the pandemic, we knew that mask wearing helped. if you put it with testing regularly, it helps with the containment of the virus. and when the vaccine became available, then perhaps vaccine as a layer number three of protection should also help presli. so our thinking was that to
maximize everything that's available to us, and cdc is already saying to protect those who do not have the vaccine available to them, those who are eligible for the vaccine should be vaccinated. so that we can protect the entire population of students and staff in the school. so that's where we went. our district is about 7,100 students and about 950 teachers and classified staff altogether. >> and 12 and up are eligible for the vaccine. forgive me for interrupting. the president is about to address the nation. i've just met with the vice president, secretary blinken, secretary austin, national security advisor sullivan and other members of the national security leadership team in the situation room to discuss our ongoing efforts to evacuate american citizens, third country
civilians, afghan allies and vulnerable afghans. and i want to provide the american people with a brief update on the situation in afghanistan. since i spoke to you on monday, we've made significant progress. we've secured the airport, enabling flights to resume. not just military flights but civilian charters from other countries and the ngos taking out civilians and vulnerable afghanis. and now we have almost 6,000 troops on the ground, including the 82nd airborne, providing runway security, the army 10th mountain division standing guard around the airport, and the 24th marine expeditionly unit assisting with civilian departure. this is one of the largest, most difficult air lifts in history, and the only country in the world capable of projecting this much power on the far side of the world with this degree of precision is the united states of america.
we've already evacuated more than 18,000 people since july and approximately 13,000 since our military lift began on august 14th. thousands more have been evacuated on private charter flights facilitated by the u.s. government. these number include american citizens and permanent residents as well as their families. it includes siv applicants and their families, those afghans who have worked alongside us, served alongside of us, gone into combat with us and provided invaluable assistance to us such as translators and interpreters. the united states stands by its commitment that we've made to these people and it includes other vulnerable afghans such as women leaders and journalists. in fact, working in close coordination with the management of the "new york times," "the washington post," the "wall street journal," we have successfully evacuated all 204 of their employees in
afghanistan on u.s. military aircraft earlier this week. we've established the flow of flights and we've increased the number of people we're moving out of the country. we paused flights in kabul a few hours this morning to make sure we could process the arriving evacuees at the transit points, but our commander in kabul has already given the order for outbound flights to resume. even with the pause, we've moved out 5,700 evacuees yesterday, and we're working on a variety to verify that number of the americans that are still in-country as we work on this because we don't have the exact number of people who are -- americans who are there and those who may have come home to the united states, we want to get a strong number as to exactly how many people are there, how many american citizens, and where they are. just yesterday, among the many americans we evacuated, there were 169 americans who, over the -- got over the wall into
the airport using military assets. we're also facilitating flights for our allies and our partners, and we're getting close operational coordination with nato on this evacuation. for example, we provided overwatch for the french convoy bringing hundreds of their people from the french embassy to the airport. these operations are going to continue over the coming days before we complete our drawdown. we're going to do everything, everything that we can to provide safe evacuation for our afghan allies, partners, and afghans who might be targeted because of their association with the united states. but let me be clear. any american who wants to come home, we will get you home. make no mistake. this evacuation mission is dangerous. it involves risks to our armed forces, and it's being conducted
under difficult circumstances. i cannot promise what the final outcome will be or what it will be -- that it will be without risk of loss. but as commander in chief, i can assure you that i will mobilize every resource necessary. armed forces are carrying out this mission. they're incredible. as we continue to work the logistics of evacuation, we're in constant contact with the taliban working to ensure civilians have safe passage to the airport. we are particularly focused on our engagements on making sure every american who wants to leave can get to the airport. where we have been seeing challenges with americans -- for americans, we have thus far been able to resolve them. we've been able -- we've made, look -- we've made clear to the taliban that any attack, any attack on our forces or
disruption of our operations at the airport will be met with swift and forceful response. we're also keeping a close watch on any potential terrorist threat at or around the airport, including from the isis affiliates in afghanistan who were released from prison when the prisons were emptied, and because they are, by the way, and make everybody understand, that the isis and afghanistan are the -- have been the sworn enemy of the taliban. i've said all along, we're going to retain a laser focus on our counterterrorism mission. working in close coordination with our allies and our partners. and all those who have an interest in sharing stability in the region. secretary blinken is with me today, met this morning with our nato allies in consultation about the way forward so that afghanistan cannot be used in the future as a terrorist base of attack to attack the united states or our allies.
for 20 years, afghanistan has been a joint effort with our nato allies. we went in together, and we're leaving together. and now we're working together to bring our people and our afghan partners to safety. the past few days, i've also spoken directly with the british prime minister, mr. johnson, chancellor merkel of germany, and president macron of france. we all agreed that we should convene, and we will convene the g7 meeting next week, a group of the world's leading democracies, so that together, we can coordinate our mutual approach, our united approach on afghanistan and moving forward. we are united with our closest partners to execute the mission at hand. we've also discussed the need to work with the international community to provide humanitarian assistance such as food aid and medical care for
refugees who have crossed into neighboring countries to escape the taliban. and to bring international pressure on the taliban with respect to the treatment of afghan people overall but including afghan, particularly women and girls. the past week has been heartbreaking. we've seen gut-wrenching images of panicked people acting out of sheer desperation. you know, it's completely understandable. they're frightened. they're sad. uncertain what happens next. i don't think anyone -- i don't think any one of us can see these pictures and not feel that pain on a human level. now we have a mission. the mission to complete in afghanistan. it's an incredibly difficult and dangerous operation for our military. we have almost 6,000 of america's finest fighting men and women at the kabul airport. they're putting their lives on
the line, they're doing it in a dangerous place to save other americans, our afghan allies and citizens of our allies who went in with us. i talked to our commanders on the ground there every single day. as i just did a few hours -- an hour or so ago, and i made it clear to them that we'll get them whatever they need to do the job. they're performing to the highest standard under extraordinarily difficult and dynamic circumstances. our nato allies are strongly standing with us. there are troops keeping sentry alongside ours in kabul, as is the case whenever i deploy our troops into harm's way. i take that responsibility seriously. i carry that burden every day just as i did when i was vice president and my son was deployed to iraq for a year.
there will be plenty of time to criticize and second guess when this operation is over, but now, now, i'm focused on getting this job done. i would ask every american to join me in praying for the women and men risking their lives on the ground in the service of our nation. as events evolve over the coming days, my team and i will continue to share the information and update the american people on exactly where things are. we'll use every resource necessary to carry out the mission at hand and bring to safety american citizens and our afghan allies. this is our focus now. and when this is finished, we will complete our military withdrawal and finally bring to an end 20 years of american military action in afghanistan. thank you, and may god bless our troops and our diplomats and all those serving in harm's way, and
now i'll take questions. a.p., zeke miller. >> thank you, mr. president. you promise to leave afghanistan but you also promised to bring out those who helped america in its war effort. we've seen these heart-wrenching images at the kabul airport of people trying to get there, to say nothing of the people who can't get to that airport. you made the commitment to get american citizens out. will you make the same commitment to those who assisted in the american war effort over the last 20 years, number one, and then number two, what is your message to america's partners around the world who have criticized not the withdrawal but the conduct of that withdrawal and made them question america's credibility on the world stage? >> i have seen no question of credibility from our allies around the world. i have spoken with our nato allies. we have spoken with nato allies, the secretary of state, our national security advisors have been in contact with