tv The Faulkner Focus FOX News August 23, 2021 8:00am-9:00am PDT
require constant coordination and deconfliction with the taliban. it is absolutely requiring us to keep these lines of communication with the taliban open that have checkpoints beyond the airport. we have seen this coordination has worked well in terms of allowing access and flow to continue. one of our commanders used helicopters to bring people in because of the crowd size. crowd size matters, too, and that's what the president was referring to. >> i have two questions. i would like to go back to the
incident. can you be a little more specific and tell us if you can rule out the attackers were the taliban first. i would like to go back to the deadline. the french foreign minister said today that it's quote, necessary to continue the afghanistan evacuation beyond august 31. >> can't rule out who the hostile actor was in the incident last night. central command's statement referred to it as a hostile actor. we don't know more than that. this just happened. i don't know when we'll have more forensics on this. our focus was on making sure we could maintain security at the airport. it was maintained. sadly it resulted in the loss of a life of one afghan soldier and wounded several others. that is our focus right now. on the deadline, i can't speak
for other nation states only for the department of defense. you heard the secretary address this over the weekend. the goal is to get as many people out as fast as possible and while we are glad to see the numbers we got yesterday. we won't rest on any laurels. the focus is on trying to do this as best we can by the end of the month. as the secretary said, if we need -- if he needs to have additional conversations with the commander-in-chief about that timeline he will do that. we're not at that point right now. >> has the taliban told you that august 31 is the deadline and you must leave then? are those communications happening? is that something you've agreed to with the taliban? >> we've seen those. we understand the view. >> can you explain is it only americans and siv holders that are allowed through the gate now? has that changed?
what's the policy about afghans in need now coming? >> they are still being processed and facilitated. >> given the number of people who are in hiding who were either siv recipients, some americans of afghan allies, why not reopen bagram air base and why not get an agreement from the qatar people to land in kandahar and elsewhere? we saw kandahar bring -- why not use the pakistanis and qataris to help bring people out? now you're just bringing people out from kabul. it is a choke point. >> first of all, the through put has improved and increased and i'm not going to -- i don't think it would be a useful
expenditure of our time to monday morning quarterback the whole issue with bagram. it was closed down >> i'm talking about looking at the situation now. you need air fields to land on to get people out. i would like to ask general taylor about this. >> we are improving our through put at the airport in kabul and we think that we'll be able to continue to try to improve that. that's the goal. what you are talking about would be an expenditure of resources and personnel as well as an increase most likely to the threat they're under to try to go back and as you put it retake bagram air base, which is the size of a small city. and i understand a lot of people have views and opinions about this. it was closed down as part of the retrograde. always supposed to be closed
down as part of the retrograde. the last base to be turned over to the afghans and even as recently as three weeks ago, before we actually had to conduct an non-combatant evacuation operation the leaders in this building ran a tabletop exercise on what it would be like to run an effective operation out of kabul airport. it is not without its challenges for sure but we are doing that now. that's a focus on making sure that we can get as many people out as possible using the kabul airport. the numbers are showing that it is working. nobody is taking it for granted. don't want to predict about tomorrow but it is working. >> thank you. back to august 31 question. is august 31 extending the deadline an option for the u.s. anymore? is this wholly dependent
whether the taliban would let a u.s. presence remain in afghanistan during that date. >> our focus is getting it done by the end of the month. what we do at the building at the pentagon is options. our job is to provide the president, commander-in-chief options. as you heard the secretary say, if he gets to appoint, he and chairman milley they believe they get to a point where they need to provide that advice and counsel to the president about an extension he will do that. we just aren't there right now. you heard the secretary say himself if he had more time on the clock he would use more time on the clock. we are focused on getting it done by the end of the month. >> major general taylor. you mentioned 42,000 have been evacuated since july. 42,000 just on military airlift or including the commercial and chartered planes? >> that total number is u.s. military plus u.s. civilian state department. some was state department
contract air that went out also. >> any breakdown of the number of u.s. citizens in the 42,000 that got out? >> i do but i don't have it right now. >> just a couple of quick questions. first on the vaccine. this would be specifically to pfizer that would be mandatory or the other? >> right now we're focused on the pfizer vaccine because of the fda approval. >> how many afghan soldiers remain in the perimeter? you said 500 to 600. is that still the number? >> i believe that's the operative number. >> how many americans have been evacuated? 2500 americans. has that number changed? >> we think that overall we've been able to evacuate several thousand americans. i would be receipt sent to get more specific than that. since the 14th we believe we
have been able to evacuate several thousand americans. >> very quickly. the last size for an operation from kabul was three weeks ago. >> certainly before kabul fell. this was something that -- i talked about this before. this was something that the pentagon had been thinking about for a long time. as far back as late april when we held a rehearsal of concept exercise looking at the retrograde and parse out through the summer. a part of that conversation was the potential for non-come at ant evacuation operations and how we would execute that. >> clarify a couple points you made earlier. you said any extension between august 31 would be the secretary talking with the president. would that decision include input from nato allies, particularly those who say they need more time? is that a factor? >> absolutely consider the views and opinions of our
allies and partners who have people there and as a general briefed very much a part of moving people out. >> have those allies commune indicated to the united states they need more time? >> not aware of that. >> the perimeter i'm having a hard time understanding when the president talked expanding the perimeter, who is part of that? is that u.s. forces? have they moved where they are positioned from where they were a few days ago? >> i want to be careful here. to talk about specific movements at a tactical level on any given day. i will not do that and i know it will be unsatisfying but let me finish. so that as caveat, we continue to look at security on the airport itself as well as the immediate environs of the airport. because in those immediate environ us outside the airport
that's where you have taliban checkpoints and crowds assembling and that's where access to the gate is critical in that space just outside the airport. where we don't have a military presence of a sustained nature. what we're doing is we are in constant communication with the taliban about that space and what that space looks like. and the only thing i would say is that as you heard the secretary say this and general milley say we will do required every day at every opportunity to make sure that those who need to get out can get out. that includes the monitoring and accessibility of that space outside the airport. what it looks like on any given day will change. >> i appreciate that. i'm not looking for tactical details. what that movement happens and threat to u.s. forces and the
public has a right to noe. i want to understand how we should be thinking about where the u.s. military is in that environment. >> i would tell you we already consider our troops in harm's way at the airport. it is a dangerous situation no question about that. we're not taking any of these threats for granted. and the commanders on the ground have the wherewithal to move their forces as they see fit to again do essentially three things. make sure the airport is secure and can be defended. make sure that air operations can continue to carry on at the clip we need them to carry on. and c, this is an important one, to make sure that american citizens at-risk afghans and siv applicants can get access to the gate and process and entry to the feed. the three primary tasks. and they know what the tasks are and can move forces, can
employ forces and assets as they see fit to do that. on any given day it could change. i don't think it would be helpful particularly because of the threat environment so high for us to talk with specificity what it will look like. david. >> were you being deliberately vague when you said the number of americans was several thousand or was it because you are not sure of the number? if you need to check the number that's the most important number here, numb nerf americans. if it is use a matter of checking the number, can you do that and give it to us? or if you are being deliberately vague, tell me why you are being deliberately vague. >> i will leave it at several thousand right now, dave. >> then tell us why. >> because i think the number is very fluid and it literally changes nearly by the hour. >> it is not more fluid than
these 11,000, 37,000. >> i will leave it at several thousand right now. >> you said you heard the public statement from taliban about the red line of august 31. does it mean you didn't hear it directly from them since you are communicating with them on a daily basis? are you with this issue did you discuss with them the need for extending the august 31st? >> i'm not going to speak with specificity to communications we have with the taliban on every given day. it happens several times a day. we're well aware of the stated desire to -- by the taliban to have this mission completed by the 31st of august. we, too, are still planning on completing it by the 31st of august. that's the mission that we've been assigned by the commander-in-chief and what we're trying to execute.
>> are the forces remaining now in kabul focusing on that evacuation, that mission, the u.s. forces, of course, are they maintaining that capability to maybe deal with a threat from taliban beyond the august 31st deadline or maybe attacks? >> again, i appreciate the question in terms of hypothesizing past the 31st, we just aren't there yet. our troops are focused on the mission, the three missions i just articulated. including being able to defend the airport, which means being able to defend themselves and their operations and we have assets in place to allow them to do that as well. i am not going to speculate about post august 31st. we are head down focused on keeping these numbers up as best we can getting as many people out as we can by the end of the month. if there needs to be a
discussion about extending that timeline, then we absolutely will have that discussion at the appropriate time with the commander-in-chief. let me go to the phones. jeff, you get the first one. >> thank you very much. regarding the incident, was the gunman killed? and was it u.s. troops who shot this person? >> i do not know on either, jeff. you could certainly reach out to central command for more detail at that level of the incident but again this just happened, jeff. i just don't think we have that level of forensic detail to offer you today. >> do you have one more? >> from what we're hearing on the ground only american citizens and green card holders are being allowed into the airport. you know when that will change and afghans at risk will be able to enter? >> it's for american citizens,
siv applicants can be processed to the gates, at-risk afghans are absolutely being considered for entry. >> first of all, how many people have been killed at the airport. we hear reports of seven, nine, nato official told abc20 killed around the airport. what is the number? >> are you talking about afghans at the gates? >> adding the people killed on monday when the c-17 took off. two killed during skirmishs inside the airport. the guy killed today. what's the total number of people who died? >> i don't have exact numbers of that. so i can't answer the exact number right now. >> can you take that question and get back to me? >> absolutely. >> you mentioned the capacity was 5,800 troops at the airport rieft -- right now. the secretary of defense didn't have the ability to do
extractions and there aren't enough troops. have you asked for authorization of additional troops to go into the airport to help with potential extractions should it come to that? >> the word capability. the actual troop number are two different things. we have approximately 5,800 forces and as i briefed over the week, as forces flowed in, capability continued to increase. initial security was the most important ability to establish. without that the ability to do other things is not possible. so as our capability increased and as you've seen, we have the capability and have executed other operations to insure that american citizens are being brought in safely and prepared for evacuation. >> so i can understand what
you're saying you think 5,800 troops the u.s. has the capability to expand the perimeter at the airport and continue all this or to do whatever the president had mentioned and also to do extractions if needed, or are you going to ask for authorization of more troops? >> 5,800 were able to continue to secure the airfield and increase safety there and continue to do the operations that we already have. >> what the secretary said was that where he was on last wednesday we didn't have the capability to do large-scale massive movements of people but he did say if there is an incident where somebody and we need to get them in small numbers and we can do that and have been doing that. that was last wednesday. more capability and troops have flown in over the last few days and we do have the ability to
help when and where we can to help americans move toward the gates. we won't talk the details of every one of those but we have the capabilities. >> do you foresee -- authorize additional troops to go in should you have a hard stop at august 31st and you have the ramp up capacity again, do you foresee authorizing -- >> i don't think it would be helpful to get ahead of where we are now. no plans at this time to request or to authorize additional u.s. forces to this mission. >> are troops leaving the airport on a regular basis. i still don't understand what's going on. >> our commanders have, as needed, the authority that they need to use their assets and forces to help assist americans who need to get to the airport get to the airport on a
case-by-case basis. your question was leaving -- it is not regular. i don't want to leave you with the idea we're somehow patrolling the streets of kabul but on occasion where there is a need and there is a capability to meet that need our commanders on the ground are doing what they feel they need to do to help americans reach the airport and there is a variety of methods that can be affected and without going into detail we're using the variety of methods at our disposal. >> we know about the helicopter on thursday at the hotel and any other situations like that? >> at least one additional instance where rotary airlift was used to help amamericans ge from outside the airport into the airport. i think i will leave it at that
today. >> your planning organization, when do you expect you will have to -- assuming you are sticking to the august 31st deadline, when will you have to stop taking in additional people at the airport to evacuate? you will have to get the 5800 american troops out, right? >> stop taking in evacuees. >> and additional americans. what is the deadline so that you can get the american military who are there at the airport and any latter embassy people out. >> we aren't the only people flying evacuees out. so it's certainly conceivable that even without a u.s. military footprint there people could still be able to get out of kabul. i don't have specific retrograde timeline to speak to today. we'll work through that as
appropriate as we get closer to the end of the mission. and as you well know we very methodically and deliberately plan in the movement out of assets and equipment and resources so that we can preserve the capability we need for as long as we need it. i will leave it at that. >> it took several days to flow the 5800 in. there were hurdles to get them in. it could take a day or two to get everyone, the military back out. that may bump the timeline back from august 31 to the 29th? >> i'm still speaking about 28 here. >> clearly you have to do backward planning for retrograde. i'm not prepared today to speak to this specific dates or process by which that would occur. but obviously we're thinking through that right now and a lot of that will depend on how
far we get as fast as we can get by the end of the month. i just don't want to speculate now about what it will look like. let me just back up. the focus is on getting as many people out as we can as fast as we can. that means being able to secure and defend the airport, which we are doing now. and we will factor all of those things in to whatever the departure timeline looks like to make sure we can maximize through put as best we can without getting anybody hurt. thus far some exceptions, some small exceptions. we've been fortunate that nobody has. >> is there any effort to tally up the number of u.s. weapons and equipment that are now under taliban control? is there any program to mitigate this problem through destruction or confiscating them and taking them back?
>> we talked about this before. i don't have an exact inventory of what equipment the afghans had at their disposal that now might be at risk. obviously we don't want to see any weapons or systems that -- to fall into hands of people that would use them in such a way to harm our interests or those of our partners and allies. we have a vested interest in not wanting that to happen. but i don't have any policy solutions for you today about how we would or could address that going forward. i would remind you though, mike, that an awful lot of equipment, weapons, resources were drawn down even in the last years and months of the
previous administration as president trump decided to move down to a force of 2500. there was a lot of retrograde of things up to that point. and then after the president's decision in mid april to complete this drawdown albeit on an extended timeline. a very big part of the retrograde was the disposition of weapon, equipment, systems and vehicles. some were destroyed. some of them were brought back home. some of them were redeployed into the region and some were turned over to the afghans. we are working through right now to try to get a better sense of what that would look like. i don't have any specific solutions for you in terms of what we can or will do going forward on this. to the degree -- well, i'll leave it at that.
>> thank you. let me ask general taylor, please. general taylor. the united states has -- [inaudible]. do you have any more detail on this? >> i don't other than that communication is happening and that like i said earlier, we are very grateful for all of our partners, allies that continue to offer any assistance to allow the safe evacuation of afghans and kam can citizens. >> any military supports -- [inaudible] like military aircraft? >> i don't know how many republic of korea aircraft have been used.
as you said today a lot of countries have been supporting and we appreciate that but i don't have the number offhand. >> thank you very much. >> all right. back to the phones here. kim dozier. >> thanks, john. i wanted to ask if you were given the short amount of time left, just seven days, are you going to allow private charters to start landing in greater numbers to pick up afghans at risk? even by conservative matthew can't possibly move all the american citizens out in seven days much less the green card holders and afghan special operators, etc. private charter companies have been told they have an hour to land, pick everybody up and take off and some are leery of even going because they don't think they can get it going that fast.
>> the ability to continue through-put is very important. so as we look at airfield operations and the ability to get aircraft landed safely, immediately in and loaded and that drives a lot of what we would call time on ground to maximize the amount of evacuees we can get out. as you saw in the last day the numbers, that required as you just said aircraft on average to be ground less than an hour, which is very quick. i do know that trans com and commanders on the ground who are facilitating that synchronization are using and want to continue to use every capability possible to get people out of kabul. so that's all i have. >> one more on the phone.
sam. >> can we get an update on u.s. support for the haiti earthquake and disaster relief? >> i think we can facilitate that a little bit later, sam. yes, we can get you an update on that, yeah. >> a question for the general real quickly. sir, it sounds like from what we're hearing from the podium that the u.s. is relying on the taliban for crowd control outside the gates. it was not part of the original plan. what forces were originally designed to conduct security outside the perimeter and how did it fall apart? where are they now? then i have a follow up. >> the 5,800 forces were part of that force package to provide security for the airfield. as, you know, within the last seven days we've seen ability to continue to coordinate and
synchronize with taliban checkpoints. i would say as you look at the last two days that ability with the commanders on the ground to work with the taliban tactical commanders has allowed and i would say the ability to control better the access into that. >> so you are saying the u.s. troops planned to be on the perimeter outside the airport but that didn't work out? >> the original 5 thouf 800 force use of the, or the taliban being there. >> given this arrangement, does
this mean the taliban is in a better position to dictate when we leave? >> i can't answer that. what i do know our continued mission, which we were given, was to secure the airfield and to insure and facilitate the evacuation by august 31st. i'll refer back to the comments that mr. kirby has already made by the august 31st date. >> we have covered this pretty well about august 31st. >> the vaccine roll-out plan. is the idea that pfizer will become mandatory and the secretary will wait until mid september to ask for moderna and johnson & johnson, will he ask earlier or will they become mandatory as they become fully licensed? >> the focus today with the fda approval was on the pfizer vaccine and moving forward to implement a mandatory vaccination regimen for pfizer. i don't want to get ahead of
decisions that haven't been made yet. >> thanks. >> with the masks on i get everybody confused. >> can you speak to any covid prevention going on at the airport? are evacuees being tested before they get on aircrafts or in intermediary countries. >> medical personnel at the airport in kabul are conducting covid screening for thoefs who are symptomatic. and then as appropriate, depending on what the temporary safe haven, what the guidelines are at the temporary safe haven additional screenings at some of those safe havens occur. then upon arrival in the united states all passengers are being tested upon arrival and then medical professionals make the proper decisions after that.
>> any concerns about positive tests for soldiers on the ground or any examples of soldiers testing positive? >> i don't have that level -- i don't know what positive results may have come in for soldiers working at the airfield but obviously their health and safety remains a top concern for all of us. yeah. >> at the top i think you announced joint base mcguire is -- is that something new? >> that is one additional base. we had been talking about three before that. joint base mcguire-dix-lake hurst is now available. with the four bases what our goal would be is to reach the
ability -- not necessarily the actual count -- but ability to built out to 25,000 capacity. we aren't there yet. it will take a few days to get to that level and that's the goal right now. the other thing i would say is if the secretary in communication with the chairman and general feels we need to add to that capacity and add to the list additional u.s. military installations we'll do that. right now we are at four. >> what's the current number of individuals at the four bases? >> i don't have that. we can take the question and northern command would have a better number than i do. >> last question. apologize for asking three. >> it is such an effort to get into the airport and people lucky to get in but now we hear the food supplies, the water
supplies, sanitation, hygiene are really bad inside the airport and so bad that some people are actually returning to go outside the perimeter. so my question is this, how can you prevent a humanitarian crisis inside the airport as this goes on and on? >> fair question. i want to let the general take it. you had the number. >> that was -- right now at approximately 1,200 have entered into the united states. as we talk about the conditions and the ability to continue to provide humane and safe piece on the airfield, as you see some of those flights that continue to come in to kabul, those are bringing those supplies in. so as those supplies are used,
we are continually replenishing those to insure that we have food and all those things that are needed, water for those that are preparing for evacuation flights. so the last 48 hours we had a lot of folks on there which is a good thing, right? it means we have gotten people through the gate and processed them and have people safe and then we can fly out. the commanders there are always assessing what the requirements are to insure that safe and humanitarian environment >> i would just add, we are mindful of these reports. it is not lost on us. there is a lot of people and they're desperate and we are trying to do the best we can to get them out of harm's way as fast as possible and when you have a through-put problem it means some people will be stuck in a given location whether it's at the kabul airport,
qatar or other temporary safe havens. nobody wants to see it go on for any longer than it has to be. no one wants to see anyone suffer any more than they have to. there have been some sanitations issues as well as issues of sustainment. as the general said we are making that a priority as some of these planes are coming in with that material on it, that kind of support and they are leaving with people. we are doing the best we can under extraordinary circumstances and believe me, the pain and suffering, the fear, the anxiety all of that, none of it is lost on us or our troops. >> we just received a report that the british evacuation commander in kabul has been locked out of all negotiations between u.s. st. com staff and taliban commanders. there is a great deal of tension now between the brits,
who are sending people outside the airport, and members of the 82nd airborne who want to join them. what is happening with our british allies? is this report accurate? and supposedly there was supposed to be an 82nd airborne dump into bagram air base to open that field and that was shut down by the white house. is that accurate? >> first that i'm hearing these reports. you will have to let me go back and look at this. i don't know. the only thing i would -- you mentioned the brits who want to go out, we are doing it as well. we are going out as needed and helping americans get into the field. >> you only described one of those instances to courtney. >> she asked me specifically about air lifts and i mentioned one using rotary wing aircraft. it doesn't mean it's the sum total of what we're doing to try to assist americans coming in. we won't detail all of them because the threat environment is so high.
as to these reports, the first i heard. you will have to give us time to dissect it and come back to you. >> some of the good friends you left and landed in the hands of taliban are going to uzbekistan. do you have that report as well? >> if it lands in the hands of pakistan are you going to be able to get them back to you? >> i don't have anything on that reporting. we can take the question and see if we can get back to you. >> could you clarify something you said to jim and courtney on occasion going out to do missions outside. what kind of coordination happens when the taliban force is on the ground. are there joint patrols? >> no joint patrol. >> can you give us any sense. >> there are no joint patrols or joint coordination. we are in communication with the taliban about their presence and where it is around the field. and i think nancy for reasons i hope you understand we are not going to get into the tactical
details of what we're doing to help facilitate the passage and assist the passage of americans getting onto the field. we want to preserve options that we can going forward. the threat outside the airport is dynamic and dangerous. we won't detail everything we're doing and every opportunity we're taking advantage of. >> u.s. force efs are side-by-side with taliban? trying to get a vishall of what it looks like. >> we aren't out there side-by-side and not about joint patrols. you can erase that visual. that's not what is happening. i have forget going. thank you very much. appreciate it. our goal is to come back here again at around 1500 for an afternoon update and we'll keep you apprised if and when that changes. thank you very much. >> harris: all right.
so far nearly an hour now we have been watching what was at times a rather contentious pentagon press briefing with reporters wanting to drill down on exactly what the facts are. in fact, at one point a reporter asked the spokesperson for the pentagon, admiral kirby, are you being deliberately vague about the numbers of american citizens behind enemy lines on the ground in afghanistan? deliberately vague is the parting quote from that reporter and then it got more vague. i'm harris faulkner. you're watching "the faulkner focus". i will ask my team to roll just that section as we get into breaking new coverage between what we just learned about the pentagon and what we just learned about the pentagon's plan going forward. watch. >> if you need to check the number, that's the most important number here, the number of americans. so if it's just a matter of checking the number, can you do
that and give it to us? or if you are being deliberately vague, tell me why you are being deliberately vague. >> i will leave it at several thousand right now, dave. >> then tell us why. >> because i think number is very fluid and it changes nearly by the hour. >> it is not more fluid than these 11,000, 37,000. >> i will leave it at several thousand now. >> harris: we're pulling our own assets together on the ground. pete hegseth "fox & friends" co-host and served in the army national guard and also with us today is senator joni ernst of the great state of iowa. there she is. i have you both together now. senator ernst, i will start with you and your top line thoughts about what we just heard from the pentagon. we are working with technology. you know how that is.
in studio with me pete hegseth. when you are deliberately vague with the numbers of americans on the ground behind enemy lines, what does that communicate to you? >> it communicates to me in all fairness they don't know. the chaos is what is in control right now there. the scary part in all the reporting we're getting and i look forward to hearing what the senator has to say as well. the taliban probably has a better sense of how many americans and siv applicants are on the ground. the other admission is we're relying on the taliban for crowd control outside. he didn't want the talk about that at all. a detack tow admission of that. they control the roads and the checkpoints. at every checkpoint you are showing a passport or visa which means they know who is trying to get there before they actually get there. combine that with lists of others who worked with us who have fallen into their hands it is scary how much they probably know who is clamoring to get to the airport and we don't have a
clear sense of how many people right now. >> harris: the last reporter, i think what she was getting at we're not in a foxhole together fighting side-by-side with the taliban but you have to have a pretty good understanding on boepgt -- both sides how this is going to go if you depend on the taliban to give you access to your citizens. somebody negotiated that. publicly, the taliban aren't playing with august 31. what will it look like september 1st? >> that's revealing from the briefing. the math don't add up. if you get all u.s. troops which stand rough life acknowledge 7,000 or slightly less, you have to get those troops out by august 31st as well. after everybody else. which takes two to three days and one of the things one of the reporters asked. john kirby didn't disagree. you have four or five days to get out an untold number.
>> harris: august 28th. >> untold number of u.s. citizens let alone siv applicants and others that have been approved. while this briefing is going on i'm getting texts in my phone from an interpreter who worked very hard on his sixth attempt right now to get to the airport. he is 300 meters away fighting through the crowd. fighting through checkpoints with the proper paperwork to get there. that's what's happening in realtime right now. hard to believe the pentagon has a true sense and could narrow it down in four to five days of exactly who needs to go and get them out in time. >> harris: you and i sat here and watched this together and did it seem to jump out at you about what it is like beyond the perimeter of that airport? i know our reporter jen griffin was trying to get a sense of this. why didn't they reopen bagram air base. let's go to our reporter and get an update status on senator
joni ernst. >> why not reopen bagram air base? you are bringing people out from kabul now and it is a choke point. >> first of all, the through-put has improved and increased. i'm not going to -- i don't think it would be a useful expenditure of our time to monday morning quarterback the whole issue with bag gram. it was closed down as part of the retrograde. >> i'm not talking about monday morning quarterbacking, why not look at the situation now. you need air fields that you can land on to get people out. >> we are improving our through-put at the kabul airport and we think that we'll be able to continue to try to improve that. that's the goal. >> harris: i grew up military, colonel's daughter. when they words like through-put i know we're in something that you don't want to get on your shoe. why not just answer jennifer
griffin's question? can you reopen bagram airfield or anyplace else that you have what marines told me going through kill zone? >> if you listen to military experts talking about what you need in order to have a successful evacuation, call it through-put or what you want, almost every single one has said a reopening temporarily of bagram to facilitate that makes a great deal of military sense. >> harris: maybe they are doigt and they don't want to tell us. >> john kirby admitted on a case-by-case basis americans seem to be leaving to extract people. i don't know if that's happening or not. it might be happening. but case-by-case is not going to be enough >> harris: how do you find out what case you are working on? are they calling you from an undisclosed location? enemies can hear our people trying to get help, too. >> submitting your information
to a state department website. wait to hear from the website to go. it's informal through senators, veterans network. ad hoc approach won't clear the airfield in the matter of time. >> harris: i have to say this. you know we've been on the ground for 20 years. they've got infrastructure. their internet is still up. during parts of this country didn't have as much bandwidth they have with the taliban right nou. i'm not trying to get a click off that. that's really interesting, right? why don't we know who is on the ground? there must have been a list. please tell me there was more th one printed list of who is on the ground for us. >> reality whether it's biometric data used throughout that country for decades. there are reports that much of that has fallen into the hands of the taliban as well. why i say our enemy knows who is there as well as we do. here is the scary part of the timeline. the pentagon knows this. the taliban is going house by
house and neighborhood by neighborhood identifying american citizens and people who worked and they are intimidating and threatening and beating, preventing their facilitation to the airport and you know what you could be looking at? a gigantic hostage situation. in fact, every american who can't get to the airport right now, harris, think about this. every american who can't get to the airport now is effectively already a hostage of the taliban. they already are because the taliban's unwillingness to facilitate that means they are preventing these americans from their freedom. that's the type of clarity we should be getting from the program. if one american can't cross and one american's hair on their head is harmed you'll pay for it. give them 24 hours. >> harris: instead none of that was happening to anybody let alone our citizens particularly our citizens.
and then we found out from the secretary of defense that yeah, people have been beat he en and yes it is a dangerous way to get to the airport. i want to get to senator joni ernst who we would have on screen but we'll do it by phone. she served in the army national guard. who things that are rather disturbing is the timeline that publicly admiral kirby, spokesman for the pentagon said there is pressure. we know about the public pressure from the taliban but wouldn't make further comments. just on that first point, what is your thought on that? >> harris, i am with pete on this. we absolutely need to get our american citizens out of afghanistan. we know the taliban is impeding progress there. and we need to make it very loud and very clear with the
taliban that we are staying until we evacuate every american citizen safely. not to mention our afghan partners. there should be no discussion about this. this should be america is going to do this. these are our citizens. we leave no one behind. >> harris: how do we even know that, senator ernst, who we are leaving behind when we can't even get firm numbers from the pentagon, the state department? we don't have to know right down to -- yes, it's 252 people. doesn't have to be with that specificity but needs to be on their end. so what's happening on the hill right now to make sure that at least somebody is keeping track of who is there? >> we are pushing the state department on this. this is one of the many great failures of this whole process.
we are pushing, members of the hill, are pushing the state department very early this spring to start getting people out of afghanistan. they didn't get the process in place and now it's very difficult to track down what americans are still in country. how do we process the sivs, the men and women who helped our people in uniform? how do we get that done while the taliban is breathing down our neck and dictating to the weak administration what can and can't be done. the process has been broken. we need the state department to step it up and i would encourage anyone, especially those that are working with ngos, if you know of american citizens still in afghanistan, please communicate that to the member of congress in your district so they know who is in afghanistan. i am receiving just tons and
tons of calls every day, people that are in afghanistan, partner members that aren't getting vetted. i'm getting calls about them as well. members of congress can communicate directly to the state department and it is imperative that we do that so we know who is still in the country, where they might be. >> harris: quickly, i want to move on to the next point here and that's the actual things that are happening on the ground to our people but what is it like communicating to the state department right now? >> it is so hard. i will be honest. i'm very, very frustrated. you can tell in my voice i'm very frustrated with this. we have a number of people that communicate, friends of mine reaching out saying my interpreter is outside the perimeter at the airport. we're going through the process of submitting names. i know there was a day and a half where my staff told me the
state department had gone radio silent. they weren't receiving messages back. that is absolutely unacceptable. if they need additional people working at the state department they darn well better get them on board now so we can process all of these requests. >> harris: with about a minute left in show pete hegseth is here and has a question and we have to be short. >> thank you. as it pertains to august 3 1*, the line in the sand the taliban has drawn. are we playing on their terms with that date? >> absolutely. it is unacceptable. going back to a very weak administration. president joe biden shouldn't be bowing down to the demands of the taliban when we have american citizens' lives hanging on the very balance. if our americans can't to the
airport by august 31st, for heaven sakes we need to stay and make sure they are evacuated safely. >> harris: senator and pete from everything i'm hearing from former leadership it will be hard to do that with 7,000 on the ground. we'll need a lot more to make it happen. i wonder how much the president will budge? >> absolutely. >> harris: we'll have to fight our way out if that's the case. thank you for being with us on set today. thank you for watching "the faulkner focus". "outnumbered" is after the break.