tv Pentagon Press Secretary Gen. Van Herck Hold Briefing CSPAN August 28, 2021 12:18am-12:50am EDT
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those currently being housed at designated military bases. he also addressed security screening procedures and covid-19 protocols for afghan evacuees. protocols for afghan evacuees. press sec. kirby: good afternoon. we will get started, today we are delighted to have join us, general vanherck, commander of norad. to have join us, general vanherck, commander of
norad. the general has some opening comments about the comments northern command is extending to help our interagency colleagues process afghans in the special immigrant visa program. i'm going to turn it over to him for a second. he will have some opening comments come up that will go to q and day. -- q & a. before you ask your question of the general, identify yourselves and your outlet. general, can you hear me ok? gen. vanherck: i have you loud and clear. press sec. kirby: thank you for joining us. i will turn over to you, sir. gen. vanherck: it is great to be with you and the press corps today. before i go on, i want to remind everybody to keep those warriors and heroes who lost their lives yesterday in our thoughts and
prayers, along with their families, the folks who continue to serve in afghanistan and around the globe doing our nation's business, we should keep them in our thoughts and prayers. less than a month ago, i was with you in the room talking about our global information dominance experiment three. today i'm here to discuss u.s. northern command support to allied refuge. the northern states -- united states northern command provides -- artist operations for range from providing covid medical assistance, relieving pressure on the overburdened medical systems in louisiana, mississippi and alabama while supporting wildfire fighting in the western united states. where providing support to the department of homeland security and customs and border protection by conducting detention -- detection, monitoring and support for the order. we are also right to direct
hurricane relief efforts. we sue ride -- provide support within the canal united states for afghan allies refuge. it provides eligible afghan nationals and their immediate families with support of the u.s. government. the opportunity to relocate to the united states. department of state subsequently activated the afghanistan ordination task force and requested the department of defense by temporary support for up to 3500 afghan siv's. on august 15, the department state requested ended -- secretary of defense approved -- in responses request, u.s. northern command are providing temporary housing, medical screening, transportation and other services for both afghan special immigrant visa applicants and at-risk afghans. u.s. northern command has been
tasked to build capacity to support up to 50,000 afghans. to do that, the department defense under u.s. northern command has established taskforces at fort lee, virginia, fort, texas, fort mccoy, wisconsin, and joint base mcguire lakehurst in new jersey. on ounces -- three additional military institute nations authorize choose provide support in the united states for afghan siv applicants and other at-risk individuals. this includes marine base quantico and holland air force base in new mexico. as of today, fort pickett has a capacity of 1000 afghans. we are working with the other two installations to finalize their respective capacities. additionally, while not a task force, u.s. northern command is supporting operation allies refuge with services and additional forces, including assisting with managing the flow
of evacuees at dulles airport and philadelphia international airport. additional sites are possible. here's a snapshot of some of the numbers you will see if task force. task force people at fort lee, virginia stood up in july and has a capacity for 1750. today, they have supported 1600 47 afghan special immigrant visa applicants and their families. nearly half of them have completed the process and moved on with the support of the department of state. nongovernmental or inter-government for mental organizations and bulger organizations. fort bliss currently has a capacity of 5000 and received afghans on saturday, august 21. they have supported 2160 afghans , a mix of hard and soft structures.
final capacity is expected to be at least 10,000. task force will point, fort mccoy, wisconsin currently has a capacity of 10,000 receive their first flights on sunday august 22. today, they have supported 2383 afghans for being housed in hard structures with shower and bathroom facilities in each building. task force liberty at joint basement wired fixed lakehurst, new jersey has a capacity of 3500 and received its first group of afghans wednesday, august 25. today, task force liberty has supported 1192 afghans, who are being housed in a mix of hard and soft side structures. final capacity there is expected to be at least 10,000. today, our total capacity at these four installations is approximately 21,000 and growing. we are steadily working to increase capacity to the 50,000
number by september 15. the number of military installations supporting this effort could increase in the future. the request for assistance from the state department specifically requested the department of defense provide culturally appropriate food, water, bedding, religious services, recreational services and other services such as transportation from the port of entry to the location of accommodations, and some medical services. my team of military civilians and contract personnel are working closely the numerous agencies, both government and nongovernment to ensure for the requirements and additional capabilities are available for promo row afghans. in addition, -- vulnerable afghans. screening and security bedding for all siv applicants in the fastest way possible, consistent with that dual goals of protecting national security and providing security for
vulnerable afghans are supported the united states. the process includes biographic and biometric screenings. we are working around the clock to vet all afghans being evacuated before allowing them into the united states. during recent visits to fort lee come up for less, i saw the operation firsthand. i probably watch our u.s. personnel operating with compassion as they helped the afghans and their families, who have done so much for the united states and our allies through two decades of conflict. i also talked with some of the afghans in each location. during a conversation with one family, i asked if they had what they needed, if they were doing ok, getting enough to eat and sleep. the father thanked me, said they had what they needed and that it was the first time in a long time that he has left without being afraid for his family's safety.
thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines are working across the united states to come late this important mission, provide our afghan allies a safe harbor while they fit finalize their immigration process. i'm grateful for the support of the communities surrounding spaces and for the volunteers and others were aiding in these efforts. together, we are honoring our commitment to our afghan partners and their families. i look forward to taking your questions, thank you. press sec. kirby: thank you. reporter: read up with associated press. i've won quick numbers question for you. -- i have one quick numbers question for you. can you tell us how many evacuees of gunther dulles, governor told us it was 14,000. we were told earlier there were 7000 siv, can you score those numbers for us. i have a follow-up. gen. vanherck: i do not have a specific number for you.
state department would be best to answer that. what has come to us is 6578 in four separate locations. what we are seeing is of those who do arrive at dulles, about 40% have been coming to us, others have been in other status, such as having a green card where they can move on to dulles. reporter: my follow-up is, can you give us an assessment of the security risks, as well as the covid risk. as you are doing these screenings, what security risks are you saying? are you seeing a number of people showing up unless? what about covid, how's that testing going, what is the threat to the basis of covid? gen. vanherck: for security, i would refer to dhs, runs out operation. i'm comfortable, we've worked to streamline the operation.
as i said my opening comments, we are doing biographical and biometric testing across the various agencies to include our counterterrorism and intelligence communities. what we are seeing is folks coming across cleared by the process, which i'm comfortable with. with regards to covid, the afghans coming from the middle east into our locations are all being tested multiple times. we test them 100 percent upon arrival at each location. their game tested at dulles as well. -- they are getting tested at dulles as well. we've seen so far, today, when i was at fort mccoy on wednesday, only three out of more than 1300 had tested positive. when i went to fort bliss, one out of more than 1200 tested positive for covid. i hope that helps. press sec. kirby: one out of
1200. jen? reporter: jennifer griffin with fox news. i want to go back to numbers. what percentage would you say of the people for processing onto these bases are siv holders or applicants, or are you also housing people who apply for refugee status? just trying to understand the breakdown of who is on the spaces -- on these bases. there are reports from dulles that some of the commercial flights have had to keep people on the tarmac on board planes for up to 10 hours while screeners come aboard. is anything being done to rectify that? is that a dhs issue? are you aware of the issue at dulles? gen. vanherck: on the siv numbers, i defer to the state department. i do not have that number in front of me. the siv numbers have not been in
excess of 50%. i don't have the details right now. with regards to the problems at dulles, i'm aware of the longer waits that you described. we work very hard over the last couple days to make the process is efficient and effective -- when i say we, dod works with the process owner, dhs to streamline this, specifically customs and border protection, along with tsa who owns that process. some of the challenges our use of the proper vetting authorities to ensure that we look at the same ones and they are coming across we knew exactly who was certifying that. that is customs that was certifying across to the other side. what happened was if the improper system was utilized, they were being flagged as read on the receiving end at dulles. that should give you comfort, that we are not leaning toward
more conservative and pushing them out, but ensuring verification. that led to the delays you are talking about. why took the brief this morning, we had no airplanes on the ramp waiting at dulles for processing through customs. i do not have an update right now, i believe we are in a good position. press sec. kirby: tomorrow? -- tara. >> reporter: can you talk about the challenges you had with the dod and dhs systems -- biometric systems being able to pass the information in a timely manner, and explain a bit more about how the different flagging red you have seen. because names were pastor different systems? gen. vanherck: i really can't answer that question. that is a question for dhs. i apologize, i do not have that information. reporter: a follow-up.
with all the thousands of afghans going onto these bases, many of them left their country with very little and probably have different doubles of means to start lives over here. how long is dod prepared to house and feed these refugees? gen. vanherck: we are prepared to house and feed them as long as it takes to get them through the process, as long as the secretary approves that. i agree with you, they are coming here, starting over with what they bring with them. we have been incredibly well supported by the local communities, nongovernmental organizations, they have jumped in to help these families with things of need, such as diapers, formula, clothing. you name it, you see that gamut when you're talking these large numbers. we've been blessed to have good support. reporter: are you willing to host as they go through the
process, what you mean by the process? if they do not have a place to go, how long can they stay on base? gen. vanherck: they will stay on base until they complete the special immigrant visa processing process, which is all about the state department, we provide medical support and contract medical support as part of that. each of the applicants will go through screening process, such as screening for diseases, vaccinations, we will have the international migration organization come in and work with them on where they need to be relocated. many of them have family here in the united states or are being relocated to places where there is already afghan populations. what we saw fort lee with those who already had some type of special immigrant visa processing is that was taking five to seven days.
we won't know how long that is going to take until the state department and everybody is on the ground and we are ready to begin processing. with only been at this a few days. each location, we are going to spin up rather quickly and begin that application process for special immigrant status. reporter: cnn. the siv screening process is a long process, what happens if one somebody is on a military base, they feel that screening? are they going back to afghanistan, or what is the plan there? gen. vanherck: i would do for you to the department of state for that. that is their area of expertise. we are prepared to continue the support until we get through this process in support of the state department. reporter: somebody feels the screening process but is already
on a u.s. military facility? gen. vanherck: they have gone through the screening process before putting feet in the continental u.s. from a security perspective. when they are through customs, they are paroled into the united states of america. if they have relatives, theoretically they can go with their relatives. we are helping them get through the screening process. we provide all the governmental organizations to support that, the medical process, etc.. we are not doing the security screening and support of state department. this is part of the application for special immigrant status. i hope that clarifies it. press sec. kirby: tony? reporter: do you have a breakdown by gender, roughly how may women, girls, boys, men have been processed by dod.
are they in separate facilities? -- local kitchens -- gen. vanherck: we are seeing about 50% -- 50-50, male-female. we are seeing 15% of children. a lot of females were pregnant. i do not have a specific detail for what you asked about for the total number with children, male, female, we are seeing right now 513 children at one location for a total of about 30% of that location. regards to your second question, we contract to provide support, multiple males out -- multiple meals, breakfast is hello.
-- halal. we will do the same for dinner. most locations will or do have a 24 hour grab and go, culturally come up for the afghans as well. i hope that enters your food question. reporter: laura. politico. med price said earlier you did not -- price said earlier you did not know how many evacuees had been evacuated. can you square that with the number you gave earlier? is there discrepancy between the ones that been evacuated and the total number people that have come to the united states? what is the difference there, what are we missing? gen. vanherck: you need to ask
the state department. i do not have that data for you. that is a question for them. reporter: as a follow-up, how many siv's and other afghans do you estimate are still at the kabul airport, awaiting a flight out. gen. vanherck: i will defer to general mckenzie, i do not know the answer. the state department or centcom may have the answer. it was between 3000 5000 earlier today. as we talked about before, this is a snapshot and chime -- snapshot in time, it changes by the hour. press sec. kirby: courtney? reporter: a couple of clarifications. when you talk about how these individuals about right on through the screening process before they set foot in the united dates, does that mean their names have already been
run through the national terror database? gen. vanherck: it is my understanding that each one of them and their names biographical data and biometric data has been run through the established databases. reporter: you also mentioned some of the medical support the military is providing, including vaccinations. design could covet vaccines at the bases, are those mandatory or optional? gen. vanherck: the vaccines are offered to them at dulles. we offer them as well at the task force locations. they are not mandatory. many of them are taking the vaccine if they have not already have it. reporter: on the paperwork, it's as they are getting assistance with their siv paperwork. is there a u.s. military component, do you have any military members assisting with that paperwork? gen. vanherck: the paperwork on our end, for accountability purposes, where they arrive at
the taskforces, we are part of that paperwork process to ensure accountability, provide security, etc. for them at each of those locations. prior to arriving at our locations, we are not directly involved with the paperwork process. i do not know the role in centcom, i'd defer you to general mackenzie on the questions frame dod members. reporter: megan myers from military -- i want to ask why these particular bases were chosen for siv's come up was at fort space reasons, hard and soft new buildings, or proximity to afghan communities in the area where they may be resettled? gen. vanherck: it was not necessarily for the specific location to afghan communities. the department looked at each location to ensure they had to
-- sufficient capacity, there was capability in the region to support that, though brightness and training for that local infrastructure and the bases was also a consideration. those were all provided by the services. the services provided within the recommendations for the department, they took a look at each location and offered up those installations for approval by the department. press sec. kirby: one more, then we let the general close it out. reporter: for the children that are on base, are there any educational classes being provided for them? if not, are those children able to go to the schools on base and educating them on american ways. gen. vanherck: i'm not aware of any of them using cdcs on base,
there is an outpouring of support from the local areas, organizations, nongovernmental that have showed up at each location to provide coloring books, books to read, educational opportunities, sports. at fort bliss, the soldiers had built soccer balls and set up soccer areas for them to practice and play soccer them occupied. that is a great news story. press sec. kirby: general, i'm going it turned over to frank closing remarks. gen. vanherck: it is a privilege to talk to today. it is a privilege to be executing this mission for those that have helped us for a couple of decades. we continue to look forward to supporting them. we are prepared to do this as long as it takes to ensure we get them settled back in the united states of america. i am proud of the soldiers,
airmen and marines, guardians, you name it. we are working very hard. every time i look them in the eye and talk to them, you cannot imagine how proud and privileged they are to support this mission. tell me that all the time. i feel the same way. we look forward to continuing to make this a successful operation. thank you for letting me tell the story. press sec. kirby: we appreciate your time this afternoon. i have time to take a few. >> [indiscernible] reporter: have the taliban entered or taking control of any parts of the military section of h kia that you are aware. press sec. kirby: i saw that report to, it is false.
reporter: [inaudible] gen. vanherck: press sec. kirby: that is still under u.s. military control. reporter: can you give us a further details on the attack at this point? anything about whether the marines notice the attacker coming, anything about the firing of the shots? has any of that been cleared up at this point? press sec. kirby: i do not have any additional details from what general mackenzie laid out yesterday. you're going to do the friends it's on this and learn as much as we can. -- the forensics on this. we are still digging into it. reporter: do you have any timing on when you believe the remains will arrive at dover? press sec. kirby: i don't.
the services are in contact with the families, they will notify the families through the casually tea -- casualty assistance officers. as you know, the process does not take that long. reporter: will the president and secretary go to delaware to meet the families of the fallen? press sec. kirby: i don't have any schedule announcements to make. we are mindful of the importance of any return of fallen members, these included. reporter: you have any status report on that 17 internet landstuhl -- injured at landstuhl? press sec. kirby: the last count i had was 20 had gone to landstuhl, there were some
additional wounded, but they were treated on site and returned to duty. i do not know what the status is. as you know, we don't usually get into the details of wounded, even anonymously. reporter: it will be useful to get an idea of whether they are stable. press sec. kirby: i'm not going to promise that. we don't talk about the status of wounded, i think you can understand. their privacy issues there we want to be mindful of. ok, thanks, i am planning to do this again tomorrow morning. i am shooting for 11:00 tomorrow for a regular update with general taylor. we will see what the rest of the weekend looks like. thank you.
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