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tv   Pentagon Press Secretary Holds Briefing  CSPAN  August 19, 2021 10:34am-11:23am EDT

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middle of a crisis. in the article it talks about a movement going forward for the cdc is establishing rapid data analysis in the projection center and it is going to be led i a couple of very well-known epidemiologist. again, i hope that the promise -- >> -- turn it over real quickly to general taylor, who you all know, and who is going to give us an operational update on where things sit in kabul, as well as the operational support update for the people of haiti and i will come back after some schedule items to talk to in then we will take questions. jim? >> good morning, everybody. it's good to be here to continue to give you an operational eight. as you know, we are getting into a rhythm here, so i will try to focus on the key operational
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highlights and priorities. when providing details through the past 24 hours of snapshots, i will provide them with respect to a few areas today. further, i'm prepared to give a cumulative update on the total number of people evacuated from afghanistan so far. first, the u.s. military for into in kabul is more than 5200 total troops on the ground. the airport remains secure and open for flight operations. there are now multiple gates that have access for entry into the airfield, which will help expedite processing in a safe and orderly manner. in the past 24 hours, 13 c-17's arrived with additional troops and equipment. also, 12 c-17's departed.
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they contained more than 2000 passengers and left kabul and arrived at designated safe havens and staging areas in the centcom operation. since the start of evacuation operations august 14, we have airlifted approximately 7000 total evacuees. the increase is reflective of both the ramp-up of aircraft and airlift capabilities, faster processing of evacuees, and greater information and fidelity in recording. if we go back to when we started supporting the state department with this movement at the end of july, the cumulative number of people moved out of afghanistan is somewhere near 12,000. the number includes american citizens, embassy personnel, individuals designated by the
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state department as applicants and other evacuees in coordination with the state department. we are ready to increase throughput and have scheduled departures accordingly. we intend to maximize the plane capacity and are prioritizing people above all else and are focused on doing it as safely as possible with absolute urgency. we have not experienced any security incidents nor interference since my last up eight. we continue to recognize the inherent danger of operating in this environment, but our service members in kabul remain agile, professional, in a posture to continue the mission and respond for wired. on the topic as we look at the last 24 hours, the f-18's from the ronald rick -- ronald reagan carrier group flew over kabul to
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ensure enhanced security and we maintain a watchful eye and are continuously conducting in-depth assessments to protect the safety of americans and we will use all the tools in our arsenal to achieve this goal. i want to reinforce that we are absolutely focused on this mission of national and orton and are committed to the safe evacuation of as many people as eckley and as safely as possible. in haiti, yesterday, eight united states army helicopters, three chin-ups and five blackhawks from the gtf real out of honduras repositioned to launching support operations in support of haiti earthquake operations. those assets have already started moving disaster relief personnel and supplies and supported the assessment of
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airfields and roads throughout the area. a ch 47 completed a partial move of 60% of a field hospital, which we believe the rest of it to be airlifted today. the coast guard continues their life-saving missions and again, all the helicopters involved will be on airlift missions to ease the suffering and get the people the capabilities where they need to be. as you know, the uss arlington is now underway and ask good to arrive later this week to provide additional lift and medical capabilities and service another resource for the people of haiti. finally, special tactics airmen assigned to the operations wing are currently augmenting lifesaving humanitarian efforts in haiti and are responsible for conducting various surveys to
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determine suitability for bringing in follow-on humanitarian aid by airlift. thank you very much. >> got a couple of schedule items to go over. so, here in washington secretary austen had a phone conversation this morning with his counterpart in bahrain. the deputy supreme commander and prime minister and this afternoon the secretary will be welcoming in his excellency and minister of state affairs here in the building. they will issue a readout for each of these events later today and with that, we will start taking questions here on the phone. >> thank you, john.
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general taylor said that there were 12 c-17 air aft departing with evacuees over the past 24 hours. smaller than the previous 24 hours, i believe. mike russian is, regarding things running down towards august 31, does secretary austin believe it will be necessary to extend the deadline? i know it isn't his call, but has he recommended that the deadline be extended? >> you heard the secretary yesterday say that we were focused on making sure we get as many people out as possible as fast as possible and we are working on that very diligently. you heard the generals update. you also heard the president say that if he believes there is a
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need to alter the timeline, that he would revisit that at the appropriate time. what we are focused on right now, bob, is heading down, shoulder to the wheel, trying to get as many people out as quickly as possible. i thing i will leave it at that. >> thank you. since the president has left the door open to troops staying, have the gun conversations with taliban tech -- counterparts been made around not coming under attack? >> i don't know the level of detail that he's having with his counterpart out in town. again our focus right now, there has been no decision to change the deadline. we are focused on doing everything we can inside the deadline to move as many people out as possible and if and when there is a decision to change that, then obviously that would
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require additional conversations with the taliban as well, but i don't believe that those conversations have happened at this wink. >> f-18's, do they have authorization to fire if u.s. troops were allies come under attack? >> these are not low-pass flights, they are at altitude and overwatch. there are other aircraft that the general has at their disposal. they are not low-pass is. to your second question i would simply say that as always, we have the right to defend ourselves, our people, and our operations. >> how many are there and was there a specific reason where you saw something that led you to move? or it was more like we have them, so why not? >> going back,
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these are providing air support and this isn't anything new. the ronald reagan has been there providing some work. these f-18's are flying more than just yesterday. they were continuously in some work and were part of the assets that i reefed early on that were always available to centcom command. >> and you mentioned that today because? >> to give an update specifically on the types of capabilities that the commanders on the ground continue to have two ensure that we can provide that self-defense and assets to the commander. >> there had been some reporting out there that there were low passes and the there were some sort of shows of force and we thought it was important for the general to provide some context about what's happening and why and that is why we mentioned it today. i don't think you are going to get a daily update on every
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aircraft and every flight plan, but we felt that given the context of the erroneous roof orting yesterday that we wanted to clear it up. >> are you receiving credible threats against forces at the airport that if we don't leave by a certain date that al qaeda and other groups will begin attacking? >> i won't speak to intelligence assessments one way or the other. force assessment is a high priority. we are always evaluating the threat. not only day by day, but hour-by-hour. we know that this is still a perilous environment and all i can tell you is that we are going to do everything that we can to make sure that we can protect our verses, protect the people we are trying to move on to the airport and protect their movements out of kabul and the entire operation at the air force. you heard the secretary talk about the need to defend the air
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and it is something we are looking at hour-by-hour. >> british paratroopers are leaving the airport and going into rescue and evacuate some of their citizens who are trapped and can't get the air because of the taliban. why isn't the u.s. doing that? >> at this time our main mission is to secure and allow those american citizens and others to come in and be processed at the airfield. >> to follow up, how are you fueling the planes going out? are you in a position where you have to buy fuel from the taliban? >> the assets on the airfield are what we need to maintain the operations, all operations, to sue the mission. >> that's a no, you are not buying fuel from the taliban? >> there's plenty of fuel sustainment capability at the hamid karzai airport and as you
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know, we also have the ability on our own, a logistics ability to fuel our aircraft as needed. courtney? >> i'm still unclear about the f-18's. why do you have armed f8 teens? can you explain more about what overwatch means? >> i will let the general speak to that. >> the ability to provide close air support is something that needs to be immediate and is a condition on the ground if it was ever required. as prudent military operations we make sure that there are always assets available so that the commander, if required, can ensure the time and space of reaction is as little as possible. >> and if you need to do airstrikes? >> we are there to make sure
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they can support the commander on the ground. >> you mention 7000 people taken out since the 14th and you are hoping to increase that capacity. how many more do you anticipate having to move? >> as i said, military capacity continues to be 5000 to 9000 per day and we are ready to do that. as mr. kirby said, our increased interactions with the department of state will allow that, as you have seen, the ability to increase more flights per day. >> is there any effort to update talks with the taliban? >> there's no update. i think you heard the secretary talk about this yesterday. we are in communication obviously with the local commander about sure that those
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at risk afghans, special at risk applicants and additional citizens that we want to move through are able to move through and really it just comes down a lot to the credentialing and making sure that they can prove and we can prove that these are appropriate people to move through and we had indications this morning that that assets is working. >> i'm confused about the f8 teens as well. first of all, this is the first time i recall you telling us about the overwatch flights since u.s. troops arrived. are these the first armed flights over couple since u.s. troops arrived? -- kabul since u.s. troops arrived? >> no. before we began noncombatant evacuation operations, we had
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been in the midst of drawing down forces. >> i'm asking specifically, since operation with u.s. forces began at the airport, began at the airport. are these the first armed overwatch? >> they are not. >> you say close heirs of work, but to be clear what you are saying is you are prepared now to conduct airstrikes over couple -- kabul? >> am not going to discuss potential future operations. it's important to say that throughout the drawdown we had overwatch capabilities. throughout the drawdown we had overwatch capabilities. so, the fact that we are flying overwatch missions now and have been since the 14th, we have been doing it since before the 14th as you would think we would and force protection is a high
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priority. we are going to have at our disposal all the assets and resources necessary to make sure we can accomplish this mission safely and efficiently just like we were accomplishing the devious mission of drawdown safely and efficiently. it's a continuum. not. the reason we decided to talk about it today and we will not be talking about it every day, but you felt is important given that there was reporting that were flying low passes over the course, that's not what this is. it's an added layer that is prudent and responsible. >> on your discussions with the taliban, now that the potential is in public for staying, does the defense department feel that it would at least need taliban acquiescence if you were to stay be on the 15th?
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did you want if not their agreement, their acquiescence to stay? >> it's a fundamental fact of the reality where we are the communications and a certain measure of agreement with the taliban on what we are trying to accomplish is going to occur. i'm not going to speculate past the 31st. i haven't gotten to anyone on the phone. >> thanks for doing this, john. can you briefly update us on the policy of the airports and we heard from sylvie with that dutch plane that left. how exactly is that process being done? how are the u.s. troops helping in the process? there have been reports of resistance.
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is the u.s. doing anything to support the afghan troops trying to make a resistance and pushback? >> on your first question, and you heard the secretary talk about this yesterday, we are willing to support the safe movement of citizens of allies and partners. some of the numbers that the general briefed that got out of the country were citizens of other countries. it's better put to our state department colleagues. we are in full support of that. the main mission at the air is operation around the airfield and continuing to get people out.
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on your second question, we have seen reports the same as you of potential pockets of resistance, but i would again stress our military mission in afghanistan right now is to conduct the non-combatant evacuation in a safe and early way and that is what we are doing. >> you mentioned the phone call between the secretary today and his counterpart. could you talk about the role that these golf nations in general are playing in this operation? are they putting the assets into evacuate citizens? >> i think those nationstates can speak for themselves and what they are doing and as i said, we will have a readout of both conversations later today,
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so i don't to get ahead of that, but obviously both countries are key partners in the region. bahrain hosts the u.s. headquarters and is a key maritime partner in the gulf region. qatar as well, in many ways. we are always interested in having good conversations with these key partners, but i don't think i'm going to speak to the specifics with respect to afghanistan and i will let those nationstates speak for themselves. >> is there any behavior by the taliban that would mean u.s. troops would have to protect? have any red lines been communicated to the taliban? >> we've made it very clear that any attack upon people or operations at the air work will be met with a forceful response. as the general noted in his opening statement, there has been no hostile interaction
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between the taliban and our purses or of american citizens getting through. we have seen words of the taliban harassing, physically so, some afghans that were trying to move to the airports. we are in constant communication with them to make sure that the, that they have the same visibility on the people we want to see get through as we do. some of that has to do with a common sight picture on credentialing, so those conversations continue. >> what about outside the airport? >> as i said, we haven't seen any hostile interactions between the taliban and our people and we haven't seen them impede, harass, or obstruct the movement of american citizens from the environs into the airport. obviously we want to see that continue.
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>> general taylor, could you discuss the non-american flights going in and out of the airport? how many people have been evacuated? how many countries are still seeking to take people out? and i have a follow-up on the taliban. >> ok. >> but i will say is that when we talk about all flights going in and out of the kabul airport, they are being synchronized and work through centcom. so, that coordination is being done. when i talk in numbers, we are including the numbers of everybody leaving from other countries. i don't have the details right now of which countries left within the last 24, but all of those type of flights, anything coming in and out of the airport being coordinated there with centcom. can we get -- >> can we get any
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details about who? and i have a follow-up on taliban. is there anything that the taliban in this cooperation, is there anything they aren't doing? anything the u.s. isn't happy with in terms of how they are involved in airport operations and have they asked demanded access to the airport? >> there has been no request of interest by taliban commanders to access the air now. it's our understanding that they understand why we are there and we are doing and, again, as the secretary said, we have been able to have that kind of communication with them. i won't detail every conversation we are having with the taliban. i again think it's important to let the results speak for themselves and as you and i are talking here today, we have an
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understanding and they are helping to facilitate safe passage for those we are trying to get into the airport and i will leave it at that going back to the phones again, paul, u.s. news? >> has u.s. confidence in the ability to carry out counterterrorism strikes in afghanistan now or in the future change at all since the fall, particularly given the coordination between the taliban and pakistan? >> the short answer to your answer, the short answer to your west and is no, we still maintain robust over the horizon counterterrorism capabilities that we will be able to >> i want to verify the evacuation capacity has reached the 55 -- 5000-9000 goal.
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what is the state department's ability to process people or people to get inside the airport as we understand they are lined up outside? >> let's talk first about the movement, the air capacity. that ability to air move up to 5000-9000 a day has been set and continues. as i did you have seen in the report and the increased numbers , we continue to see the ability to build those ready to fly on kabul airport to increase to allow us to fly those out. with the ability to continue obviously we want that to continue to increase as we continue to bring more people, more american citizens onto the airfield so they could be processed and ready to fly. >> are there any request from dod officials to expand around the airport to make a little bit
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more of a safe zone while they wait in line? what was the taliban response? >> the commander on the ground -- other you have seen, the airfield is secure. every day insecurity -- operations, commanders are always improving the security environment. as the commander on the ground at every level finds those things that need to be improved to increase the security to allow mission success, they will do those things that allow them to do on a daily basis. as you saw today, the ability to continue state departments, bring more people on, that's what we will continue to look at. >> do they have the ability to expand the perimeter? >> i don't want to get into where we are. the mission remains security at the airport and in the perimeter of the airport. that is what we are doing. as we speak, there is no plans
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to expand the on that. the other thing i want to touch on your first question. what the generalist talking about is capacity. as i said from very early on, what we want to make sure is it is not a limiting factor and it has not been. that doesn't mean at this point in time every single seat on every single plane is going to be filled. we are working hard to get there. we want to build out to that capacity. there are lots of factors that go into the throughput. including the situation in town, the checkpoints the taliban has set up. including processing at the gates where we have set up. we have additional gates available to us. that's how we flesh out some of this capacity. of course security at the airport is a factor. we are not taking any of them lightly.
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we are not taking security at the airport for granted. it changes every day. what we want to make sure is one limiting factor is not airlifting capacity. going forward, it will not be. just because you have 5000 seats every day. we want him to move as many people as past -- fast and safely as possible. there's lots of -- >> your at this capacity, you have put in the capacity you
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take 5000 people out in 24 hours but you have only taken 2000 out? >> like i said, within the commander's capabilities and assets available, we have the appropriate air assets to fly 5000-9000 a day. depending on the ability, those ready to fly, we bring in the assets to fly them out. yes, we have assets available to reach those numbers today. >> what's physically flying in right now, is that enough? >> it is not about the math. it is about what is ready to fly. who is on the airfield ready to leave the holding area and get on the aircraft. as those numbers increase, as
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they have in the last 24-48, the command people continue to bring in the airflow required to fly out those people. >> there are many other factors, is the u.s. depending on the taliban to keep those terrorist groups in check during the operation? >> it is absolutely a planning factor. you wouldn't expect it to be otherwise. i wanted to talk about specific force protection measures against terrorist threats. clearly, we are mindful that the threat could persist. >> the overwatch flights again have been in the air since before the noncombatant evacuation operation. it is force protection measures in the air. it could make sure we protect the people and our operations
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against any threat. >> you are nowhere near the demand for getting people out that you have established and maintained. what is the best estimate -- if american citizens are the first priority, what is the estimate that you will work through those and then you could turn full-time as it were to afghans or whatever? >> a couple of points on this. the general said we have the capacity now. there is certainly enough airframes to meet the capacity we would like to have. that doesn't mean that the number of airframes are just landing and we are just taking them off.
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we are trying to make maximum use of the ramp space, of the aircraft. we will adjust that every day. the demand will drive how many shorties we fly. >> what is the best estimate of american citizens? >> as the general briefed, in the last 24 hours of the 2000 i got out, it was a mix. american citizens and family members as well as special immigrant visa applicants and at risk afghans. we want to take care of our fellow americans. we want to take care of at risk afghans and special delegate visa applicants.
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we are processing people as fast as we can. getting them onto our onward stations. we are trying to strike that balance every day. >> what proportion are women? >> i don't have the gender breakdown. of the 2000 over the last 24 hours, nearly 300 of them were americans. that includes legal permanent residents. it includes obviously american citizens as well as family members. every day that will change. i don't have a gender breakdown of what the manifest are. >> does the u.s. government recognized the taliban of -- as the government of afghanistan? >> that is a question for the state department. >> are you seeing more
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throughput individuals who are able to access the airport? are you seeing more people being able to access the airport over the last 20 hours? >> by opening up another gate, adding officers now, we believe that we will soon begin to see an opening up and we are hopeful that means a more consistent increase in the flow. i can't tell usb speak that there has been some -- can't tell you as we speak that there has been some dramatic rise. with troops helping officers, i think we are poised to see an increase. i want to be careful before i make productions. what we are trying to do, what we want to drive is ending. that is very much on everybody's mind. >> you were talking about american citizens, the 7000
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number there was presented earlier. the general had said you are now including other countries evacuations in those numbers, is that accurate? or is the 7000 exclusively u.s. and afghan? >> it is others. we have given your numbers and they have included nationals. >> hang on, one at a time. >> how many people has the u.s. government flown out on u.s. military planes? does that include other countries and civilian flights? >> we are giving you the total number of people that we have evacuated since the 14th. there have been some of our allies and partners that have gone out. we are giving you u.s. government flights. that is not counting people who are still getting out commercially or on charter flights.
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we are fixated on the tales that we own. it is not the only way out of kabul right now. the commercial side is open. it is not as robust as what we could do on the military side. >> i do not have a breakdown. i suspect over time as our manifesting process gets more refined, we may be able to be there. we don't have that specific breakdown. >> how many american citizens remain in afghanistan? >> i don't know. >> you are planning for these operations, you should have some kind of a countdown of how many americans who need to be evacuated, right? >> as you probably know, the
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state department be a better place to go for an estimate on how many americans are in afghanistan or in or around kabul. that is not something the military would know. you would also know not every american citizen in another country -- there is no obligation that they register their presence. that you could have a perfect, accurate count. i don't have that figure. i would refer you to my colleagues for the best estimate on that. >> does the present -- does the pentagon have the authorization at this point in time to expand the perimeter at the airport or to go into kabul if necessary? >> we want to provide safe and secure operation. >> i'm asking you if the pentagon has the president's authorization. >> i will not talk about the potential of any future authorizations one way or another.
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that will be a policy decision. we are focused on security. >> my question is do you have the authorization now at this point? who makes that decision? >> we are authorized to provide safe and secure operations at the airport. >> could you talk about the logistics regarding the human need of the people at the airport? a lot of civilians, a lot of troops. there is food, sleeping arrangements, water, sanitation. are you handling that and how are you doing that? >> when you look at when whoever comes into here and process for flights. all of the human needs, the basic needs to ensure the welfare, care, to ensure they go forward are being done. that is a combination of state department support and military support.
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working hand-in-hand, the commander. out of the elements. >> you've got two more weeks almost of this. are there concerns about maintaining the input of supply? >> military planners, we almost ensure we have the proper mandates to conduct missions. those are assessed on a daily basis. those commanders are always assessing what do we have now? what do i need to do in the short term? we are always continuing to and that is why you see other planes continuing to arrive as required. continue to ensure everything we need to do to execute the mission that we have right now.
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>> tom? >> thanks, good morning. i wanted to check on something. in regards to the pentagon policy that existed providing air support and other assistance to the afghan government that was in place this summer, did this and with the fall of kabul? is there government still functioning in places? >> there is -- there aren't operations out in the country to support. in terms of airpower, is as the general describe. appropriate overwatch for our operation. our operation is at the airport. >> i've a question about gates at the airport.
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could you talk about this new gate that you open, are the taliban outside of that gate? are they letting people, afghans and u.s. citizens through that new gate? have you been able to keep very specifically all of your dates on your side? have you been able to keep them open or have you had to close camp sullivan or any of the gates? >> the gates at the kabul airport are secure. as we continue to throw more forces in, it gives the commander a greater capability to provide security at those dates. it allows greater input into the kabul airport. >> the question is are all of
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the gates continuously open? have the marines had to close sullivan at various points? do you have the taliban letting people through this gate you are talking about? have you been able to keep them all continuously open? >> as the general said, we have an additional gates now. reporting this morning is they are open. i can't tell you with perfect clarity that there has not been times over the last 72 hours when temporarily because of security incident that they have had to lowe's. i suspect that is true. i don't have a firm answer for you on that. our goal is obviously to keep them as open as possible and increase the flow as much as we can. >> for the record, has any of the u.s. troops been involved in any additional crowd control measures that included them having to fire? >> i'm not aware over -- of any
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over the last 24 hours. >> that is a good place to stop. thanks very much. my plan is to -- >> can i just get a haiti question? there are reports that american military medical teams are going into the area. >> first, we do have air force medical personnel there helping assist. the flights that we are bringing in one of our medical hospital capabilities. more to come today to be able to help and assist medical hospital first-aid type care. >> thanks everybody. my plan is to update you this
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afternoon. that will be off-camera. we will see you about 2:15. thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> today a discussion on the collapse of afghanistan to the taliban and its implications for the region. live coverage begins at noon eastern on c-span. online at c-span.org, or listen on the free c-span radio app. >> walking from washington, d.c., to new york city. former wall street journal reporter neil kingery -- reports on his nearly 300 mile journey. >> with all that has happened, all of us being shut in. walking around behind masks. that long covid winter that was
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pretty horrific. i live right nearby. the contested election. really i think it was the fifth day of spring. look up close and very slowly along the way. where were we as a country at the moment? >> neil king on his nearly 300 mile journey, walking from washington, d.c. to new york city. >> you could also find q and a interviews wherever you find your podcast. >> sunday, views from the house continues. two more members of congress
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share stories about what they saw, heard, and experienced that day. susan wild recounts what happened. >> i don't remember how long we were in that situation between the time they barricaded the door and when we finally got out. it could be anywhere like 20 minutes. it could've been two hours, it could've been five minutes. i have no sense of time whatsoever. our number when i got off the phone with my kids i told them that i found my heart was pounding. i was very worried i was having a heart attack. we have family history. i was very worried about that. i want to put my hand up to my chest. that photograph of me was taken showing me with my hand up to my chest.
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i do remember jason taking my hand, stroking it and telling me i was going to be ok. i was a little conflicted that i was reassuring me. it was showing me how upset i was. >> this week you will hear from massachusetts democrat jim mcgovern. january 6, views from the house, sunday at 10:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span.org, or listen on the c-span radio app. >> c-span is your own feud to the -- unfiltered view of government. sponsored by these television companies and more including charter communications. >> broadband, a force for empowerment. that is why charter is investing billions in infrastructure, upgrading technology, empowering opportunities in communities big and small. charter c

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