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tv   Pentagon Press Secretary Gen. Hank Taylor Hold Briefing  CSPAN  August 21, 2021 7:26pm-8:03pm EDT

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simple message and that is that the president needs to call for an evacuation of all our afghan interpreters and allies. the call has been made to the president to evacuate all american citizens, it has not been made for our afghan allies. >> c-span is her unfiltered view of government. we are funded by these communications -- these company's and more, including charter communications. >> shot her has invested billions building infrastructure, upgrading -- charter has invested billions building infrastructure. charter is connecting us. >> charter communications supports c-span along with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> pentagon spokesman john kirby
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and army major general hank taylor briefed on u.s. evacuation efforts in afghanistan for u.s. citizens and afghans who are applying for a special immigrant visa. major general taylor announced that since july, the u.s. military has evacuated approximately 22,000 people from afghanistan. this is just over half an hour. d that since july, u.s. military has evacuated approximately 22,000 people from afghanistan. this is just over half an hour. major general taylor:. thanks for joining us on this saturday. i will give you a quick operational update as well as
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answer your questions. mr. kirby is here also. we look forward to that. before i describe the situation in kabul for the past 24 hours, i want to recap the past week and present a holistic view of what has been accomplished. august 14, we began this evacuation operation which is one week ago today. since then, we have rapidly deployed thousands of troops into afghanistan. our footprint continues today to stand at approximately 5800 troops on the ground, continuing to provide and secure the kabul airport to allow for evacuation operations. these trips were both pre-positioned as well as deployed from the united states. as forces steadily flowed in, we successfully secured the kabul
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airport. if you recall, the situation a week ago was a little different than today. the airport remains secure. u.s. military personnel currently oversee flight operations, both u.s. military contracted aircraft as well as foreign aircraft continue to operate within kabul airport. additionally, the u.s. military has maintained gate security at meijer gates and supported our state department colleagues in the processing of individuals to prepare for evacuation flights out of afghanistan. critical to getting americans and afghans at risk out requires additional space at intermediate staging bases and safe havens and other locations. this impacts our throughput.
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two days ago, the u.s. military airlifted nearly 6000 evacuees in a single day. in the last 24 hours, six u.s. military c-17's and 32 charters departed kabul. the total passenger count for those flights was approximately 3800. also in the past 24 hours, a number of c-17's are moving between qatar and germany providing critical relief that will increase our input to those intermediate staging bases. finally, in the past 24 hours, three flights landed at dulles international airport. there are now afghans, and just one week since beginning the operation, have left afghanistan and will be transitioned to fort bliss today for further processing in this process. as you can see, this is a very complex and multistep operation.
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we are committed to this highly important mission to bring american citizens, siv applicants, and at risk afghans who have worked alongside us through our time in afghanistan, and vulnerable afghanistan citizens, safely out of afghanistan. since the end of july, we have are like -- relocated a proximally 22,000 people. since august 14, we have evacuated approximately 17,000. i would add that intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals are conducting screening and security vetting for all afghans before they are allowed to enter the united states. these agencies are surging resources to evaluate all of these evacuees to ensure protection of the homeland. this massive effort is the result of teamwork across the
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interagency cooperation of our partners around the world who share in this incredible effort. thank you. john kirby: ok. it looks like you are on the phone. >> thanks, john. for either you or the general. obviously, there are fewer people getting out of afghanistan in the last 24 hours. the embassy has issued a give us a clearer picture of what is going on outside the airport. mr. kirby: the first part of the question is, we talked about guardians going out to not commit -- we are continuing to process people throughout the last 24 hours. the commanders are metering how many people come in and out of
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the gate to ensure the ability to screen applicants as they come onto each kia. gen. taylor: there has been no reported change to the current enemy situation in and around the airport. >> it was a security where that came out of the embassy this morning talking about security threats outside the gate and they are advising to stay away from the airports. can you explain what is this threat? is it taliban? is it isis or an al qaeda angle to this? mr. kirby: you can understand why we are not going to get into specific details about the threat environment or what our intelligence has given us. we have said from the beginning
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of this that we will try to do this in a safe and orderly way. that means making sure no one gets hurt to the maximum extent possible. what you are seeing out of our state department colleagues, there's a notification to make sure that whatever movement there is from outside the airport is done as safely as possible and that people have the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves going forward. i understand the question and interest, but i hope you understand we are going to be careful about what kind of extra context we put out there. >> there was a threat that led to the event -- evacuation for helicopter thursday, i guess what we're trying to figure out is, is it just difficult for americans to get there? or is there actually a threat of
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getting to the airport? mr. kirby: i will not get into specific threat assessments. the situation in kabul and all cities is fluid and dynamic. you have seen the images over the last 24 to 48 hours yourself of the situation outside the perimeter of the airport. and it changes. it changes almost by the hour ended changes in location around the airport. it is very fluid and dynamic. i don't want to speak with the state department, but like our military commanders they are going to make decisions in real time about what is in the best interest of innocent civilians that have need to get to the airport if we want to get inside the security gates. this will change every day. it will be modifications to our assessments to the security environment and what we think is in the best interest work like there have been reports of the afghan military and others --
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>> there were reports of the afghan military going against the taliban who knows when or if there was any support from u.s. military to support them? gen. taylor: as you know, no current request for that have come in. we continue to maintain the current capability we have had in the ground and in the air since we began operations. >> the mission has not changed. the mission of the united states military in kabul is to make sure the airport is secured. to conduct and manage operations so we can continue to move people out. that is the focus of the military mission. >> a week ago there was a mission to support the afghan military with extracts. that was supposed to continue until august 31st. the situation has changed, but
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it stands to reason if you have military you still have the authority to carry out strikes if requested by the afghan military. but i guess at this point they have not been requested is what we are being told? mr. kirby: the general says there has been a request. i want to stress the military mission we are executing now is a noncombatant evacuation operation. >> in the last 24 hours, to taliban leadership -- has that been part of the making the situation on the ground glass -- less -- >> i will not detail a threat assessment. it is very fluid and dynamic. what i would tell you is that we continue to have irregular communication with taliban leaders there in kabul, particularly those that are manning or in charge of the area around the airport.
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that communication has not changed. >> while there is ongoing -- without taliban near the airport, there is a lot less ability to go out farther in the city and possibly where there might be kidnapping or rashes is that we are trying to avoid? mr. kirby: there are a whole panel of concerns we have. again, this is a noncombatant evacuation. that is what we are focused on. the idea is to get as many people out as we can as fast as we can. that is what the focus is. clearly, in trying to encompass the mission we are taking in a wealth of information about the -- what the security environment looks like. the mission is at the airport, that is the key focus. >> is there a sense that their window of opportunity is closing?
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and maybe quickly as the security situation on the ground is -- mr. kirby: i think we have been honest about the fact that we know that we are fighting against time and space. that is what we are -- that is the race we are in right now. we are going to be quickly and safely as possible. i will not speculate about whether windows are closing or opening. we are focused on accomplishing this mission as fast as we can. >> two days before kabul felt -- fell, he said the city is not in any kind of imminent threat environment, how could you get that so wrong? mr. kirby: i understand, i have seen the reactions of their own social media to what i said.
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in the moment i said it based on what we knew at the time, it was a true statement. two days later, things dramatically changed. i admit that. things moved very quickly. as you are the chairman of -- you are the chairman say a few days ago that there was not any indication that they received that it would've evolve as quickly as it did. >> we have been following all week every day. mr. kirby: i understand. all i can tell you is the moment i made those remarks were accurate. i am an truthful and honest up here and sdram -- transparent as i can be. while others may recall what i say -- ridicule what i say, i am comfortable that what i'm giving you is the best information i have at the moment i have it.
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i would help and understand that people -- events have and did continue to evolve very quickly there. the threats will change and could change by the hour. we are trying to give you the best we can, but the moment will change. >> it could be changing by the hour he said. mr. kirby: i think i've answered the question. >> 10 years ago, u.s. forces in iraq recommended to the president not to pull troops out and months ago the defense secretary recommended the same thing in afghanistan. are you frustrated that the presidents are ignoring them? mr. kirby: the secretary is focused on a mission at hand right now which is a noncombatant evacuation mission. he is comfortable that throughout this deliberation, his voice was heard, that he had
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an opportunity to provide his best advice and counsel to the commander-in-chief in the national security team as did other leaders at the pentagon. it was an inclusive and deliberate process. the secretary believes the president was given the benefit of a lot of different views. not just his, a lot of different views. then he made a decision. that is how it works. that is exactly how the process should work. once the decision is made, you execute. that is the way this building operates, you execute. that is what we are doing. >> are you not frustrated that once but twice his advice has been ignored? >> you give your advice. a decision is made.
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an order is given he follow that order and vegetable we are doing. you had the secretary say just after the president announced his decision in mid april that he fully supported him, he has been clear about that. >> has he thought about resigning? mr. kirby: no. >> one factual question, how many of the 17,000 are american citizens? and, have there been any further outside the wire operation? mr. kirby: i don't have a breakdown of how many of the 17,000 are americans. to my knowledge, since we last talked yesterday there have been no additional operations as you put it, outside the wire or security perimeter of the airport.
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without getting predictive, we have troops in a dynamic environment and they understand that. they also understand the -- why they are there. which is to help people. i am not going to rule out the possibility that they see a moment, if they see an opportunity to do it that they want to do it. >> what is the sensitivity of going outside the perimeter? they don't seem to have a problem acknowledging and they seem to be reopening. a british soldier is quoted as saying they were conducting joint patrols with the taliban. is there something restraining u.s. forces from going out and getting people? gen. taylor: going back to i
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think your first question, can you me the question again? >> how many of the 17,000 -- gen. taylor: i think i can help with the numbers of american citizens you are asking. approximately 2500. when you talk about the operations, as we look at the joint and coalition of what is operating, the british forces at the gate are -- those patrols were talking about. i don't have knowledge of people going outside the wire as you speak on patrols. what we see the british marines that are on those gates, what we would call local security operations continue the best
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they can to make sure they are safe and that all the large crowds, they are trying to ensure their -- they are controlled. to allow the people that are allowed to and have the right to be at the gates. >> local security operations in or outside? gen. taylor: at the gates. >> are british and other forces there under the operational land of -- command of u.s. commanders? gen. taylor: does british forces that are there at the gates are part of the u.s. for the operational control of the commander that has kabul airport. >> he has operational control of british forces? >> general, you talked about how
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local commanders are mirroring people coming in, that suggests that the flow is continuing into the -- if you are an american citizen in kabul you can get to the airport and you should try to get to one? gen. taylor: what i would say is that american citizens -- as they come into the gates we are continuing to process them and get them to safety. that is our mission. >> have any of these gates been actually completely closed in the last 24 hours? gen. taylor: when you look at the gates and we are ensuring the gates are -- they always have the ability to be open and process the right people that come to the gates. that is, i think important to understand. the gates are always manned by forces there that can process
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the right people come to the gates. >> i am still confused. if you have a u.s. embassy sending out alerts telling american citizens in kabul do not come to the gate if you want to get out of here because of the security situation, it's too threatening. if you are saying you should come to the gate. gen. taylor: i did not say he should come. what i said was -- our military forces at the gate have the ability to continue to process those that come to the gate. there are multiple gates right now. there are three or four main gates that process evacuees. >> two were open, is that correct? gen. taylor: two additional gates? i don't have that report of two additional gates.
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>> let me get to the phone a bit more. >> thanks. i want to confirm, over the past 24 hours, how many gates have been closed, and have they been for long periods of time? or short? mr. kirby: to go back, those gates are opened and closed as required. there have been short duration throughout the last 24 will gates have been close. gen. taylor: to go back those gates are opened and closed as required. there have been short duration throughout the last 24 hours where gates have been closed.
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mr. kirby: anymore in the room, louis? >> can i go back to the 2500 american estimate? that's a very small portion of the 15,000 that the president said might be the top number of americans have died. are you making efforts to try to bring more americans in? i know you are cautioning them to be aware of the threatening environment. at the same time, how do you get that many americans into the airport if there really are that many americans in the country? >> we don't have a perfect figure of how many are in that -- in afghanistan let alone kabul. as a general said, if you are an american, you are at the gate, he will be let in that gate. the state farm and is doing the best they can -- the state
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department is doing the best they can to advise americans who still haven't made it to the airport with the situation looks like around the airport. as you also heard the president made clear yesterday that we will continue to explore options that -- to assist americans as needed. we will do that, we will do that at the pentagon. if there is a need to do something different than what we are already doing, it will take them getting into the airport and we will consider those options. >> is there an advisory that goes out to afghan nationals who have visas in hand? are they also being told that the threat dynamic -- situation is dynamic, be aware? are they getting similar messages? mr. kirby: my understanding is that there is ways to
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ways to communicate to the population. how that is done, that is not a deity equity. i couldn't speak to that. >> the mission with the hundred and 69 americans, have there been any other air literacy operations? and is that a way americans might be able to get to the airport? mr. kirby: no, i won't speculate about potential operations going forward. >> you talked about -- can you talk about the different bases opening up and how is that sorting done? how did three aircraft industry to dallas and straight -- some go to germany? how are the decisions made? gen. taylor: as the flights are manifested, as the rosters are put together, who is on those aircraft and where it can go to.
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some flights were going to cover -- cutter so afghans could be held there -- some flights were going to qatar so afghans could be held there. some continue to drop people off to allow other flights from qatar forward into dulles. it depends on how many folks you have, is it a full flight of sib question mark is it afghans? americans? it's extremely dynamic. as those manifests are done to make the decisions on the spot. >> only sib that have been fully process will be coming into the u.s. for now question mark or will there be a situation where any that are evacuated will be brought onto base and figure
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that out once they are here? mr. kirby: it's -- gen. taylor: it's important we do the full screen process all the way to making a final decision to where somebody goes. i know we will continue that. going back to right now, the guidance in's and continues to be to increase our outlook to make that happen. >> is the american flag flying at the airport in kabul right now? gen. taylor: yes. >> there is some talk that the u.s. embassy, which caused nearly $800 million to build, why was that closed and the flag taken to the airport? shouldn't they flag come down last from in embassy one -- when conducting an evacuation question mark -- conducting in
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evacuation? gen. taylor: i can speak to that. operations continue to happen at the airport. at headquarters where u.s. personnel continue to execute the mission, the flag flies. >> when evaluating a country, does not the american flag come down from the embassy last? that is what a lot of veterans are saying. gen. taylor: i will say the fact that the flag continues to fly and the mission continues right now. >> just a couple more. >> john, mccarthy put out a statement last night saying that within moments of president biden saying we have defeated in afghanistan, the secretary and general milley just a session on the ground and he is austin specifically said americans were being beaten on the way to the airport? can you give us more detail
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about what -- who these americans are that he was talking about? mr. kirby: we have been talking about this for several days. we know of cases, a small number we know of. we know of a small number of cases where americans and as the said, afghans, afghans we want to evacuate. it wasn't just americans. have been harassed, and in some cases, we don't believe it is a large number, and in a matter of fact the numbers would indicate and i have said this before that by and large, most americans who have their credentials with them are being allowed through taliban checkpoints and onto the gate and dashed into the gate
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and onto the airfield. by and large, most americans are having no problems we are aware of. i have the cavity out and i will do it again, i have done it every day. we are aware of sporadic cases where they are being allowed entrustment is going on. and yes, some violence has occurred. the secretary has made clear in that phone call the that is unacceptable. >> what i am wondering is, the cases the secretary was talking in the numbers, with those occurring yesterday, there are these recent? are we talking cases -- >> over the course of the last week. we have been made aware of this. >> more cases since the u.s. started talking to the top end and telling them not to do it? >> i don't have a breakdown day by day. we have been in touch with the taliban for quite some time. over the course of the last
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week, we have certainly made our concerns known. i think equally frustrating is the fact that -- what appears to be happening is that not every taliban fighter either got the word or decided to obey the word. i cannot speak to taliban command and control. by and large, for the most part, americans with their credentials are being given the passage they need three checkpoints and are getting onto the field and security conditions permit. >> there were reports of an eye on social media and pictures showing a case -- is that the case? do you have -- are some aircraft leaving the airport relatively empty? and why? gen. taylor: that flight cycle continues. but the commanders on the ground
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it now is we continue to evacuate and ensure everybody gets out as fast as possible. what we don't know is, what i'm not aware of that exact flight which had a different mission to do something else. i can't answer that. what i know is you have seen, we are getting those that are ready to fly and that have been fully screened and are ready to fly, on aircraft into moving to onward destinations. >> the 3800 you mentioned in your opening statement, those are including the there are two charters that went out? out? gen. taylor: that's correct. >> last one. >> you know how many have gone to qatar or as we learned yesterday another location took
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some of the flights. also is qatar filled up at this point? you will have to transition to some of these other stations? gen. taylor: we talked about the number that continue to move. i want to talk about qatar. there was a time. yesterday where we delayed flights going in there to allow that the current capacity and qatar which was really well done there, to continue to feel our capacity so fast. to allow those flights to depart before we bring flights in. now that we have rim sign open, that will allow us -- 24 is the plan to assess getting back into the numbers we saw believe before and moving them out. >> thanks everybody. >> coming up that i on c-span,
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carter malkasian discusses the history of america's war in afghanistan in the country's future. then, kristin clark testifies on the 1965 voting rights act before a house judiciary subcommittee. later, john kirby and hank taylor briefed on the u.s. evacuation efforts and -- in afghanistan for u.s. citizens
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and afghans who are applying for a special immigrant visa or siv. >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we are funded by these television companies and more, including media,. >> mediacom is ready, and we never slow down. schools and businesses went virtual and be powered into reality, because we are built to keep you ahead. >> mediacom supports c-span as a public service, along with these other providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. continues. host: he served as a sport -- spl assistant to rogers of dunford from 2015 to


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