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Pentagon Commandeers 18 Commercial Planes To Help Afghanistan Evacuation

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 22, 2021

Topline

The Department of Defense on Sunday ordered six U.S. commercial airlines to provide planes to help facilitate the evacuations of Americans and Afghans who assisted the U.S. military from Afghanistan as thousands remain stuck in the Taliban-controlled country.

Key Facts

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet – a measure created after the 1952 Berlin Airlift, aimed at supplementing the military’s aircraft in emergencies – the Pentagon said in a statement.

Austin activated 18 aircraft from six airlines: four from United Airlines; three from American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Atlas Air and Omni Air; and two from Hawaiian Airlines.

Rather than send the planes to Hamid Karzai airport in Kabul, the military will use them to transport Americans and Afghans out of temporary waystations, freeing up military aircraft to return to Kabul, the Pentagon said.

The move comes as National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan estimated in a CNN interview “several thousand Americans” remain in Afghanistan, with some struggling to get inside the airport due to crowds around the entrances.

United Airlines said in a statement it will activate four of its 22 Boeing 777-300s, and is “proud” to “use our expertise to ensure the safe passage of our fellow countrymen and women,” as well as those who “risked their lives to help keep them safe.”

Crucial Quote

“The Department does not anticipate a major impact to commercial flights from this activation,” the Pentagon said in its statement, adding that the move “increases passenger movement beyond organic capability and allows military aircraft to focus on operations in and out of in Kabul.”

Big Number

2. That’s how many times the CRAF has been previously activated: once during the Gulf War from Aug. 1990 to May 1991, and again during the Iraq War from Feb. 2002 to June 2003.

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