Following reports of as many as 15,000 Americans living in Afghanistan and in need of rapid evacuation, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)—the first female combat veteran to serve in the U.S. Senate, a veteran of the Global War on Terror, and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee—is calling on the Biden Administration to provide answers on the safety of these American citizens and details on the plans to get them out of Afghanistan.
In a letter to both the Secretaries of State and Defense, Senator Ernst writes, “The United States is responsible for evacuating every single American from Afghanistan safely in the days and weeks ahead. The Americans who remained in Afghanistan following the announcement of the U.S.’s withdrawal by September 11, 2021, did so with assurances from the President and Secretary of State that the country was not in imminent danger of falling to the Taliban, and that the U.S. Embassy in Kabul would remain open to provide diplomatic services in the near term, as recently as mid-July. Those assurances were false, and now, with thousands of Americans spread across the country, large-scale rescue efforts must proceed immediately…I implore you to authorize the U.S. military to guarantee safe passage for Americans to Hamid Karzai International Airport, and commit to evacuating every American from the country before again withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan at or beyond the end of August.” Additionally, Ernst is requesting other answers, including:
- Is the Administration aware of how many Americans in Afghanistan are currently unable to reach Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul? If so, how many and how does the Administration plan to get them there safely?
- If Americans are left to find their own way to Hamid Karzai International Airport, how should they approach Taliban-controlled checkpoints surrounding the airport?
- What authorities will the Administration give to the U.S. military to safely evacuate Americans from an Afghanistan that is controlled by the Taliban?
- What will be the way forward for the American people stranded in Afghanistan if the President’s arbitrary end date of August 31 passes and the U.S. military has not completed the withdrawal?