Air Force units stationed in Hawaii are supporting what the White House on Wednesday called “one of the largest airlifts in world history,” with U.S. military and coalition flights out of Kabul airport in Afghanistan relocating approximately 88,000 people since the end of July.
A C-17 Globemaster III cargo carrier aircrew made up of 15th Wing active-duty at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and 154th Wing Hawaii Air National Guard airmen “have assisted multiple missions from Ramstein Air Base, Germany,” Pacific Air Forces said.
U.S. defense officials previously noted the need for additional aircrews to keep a large fleet of C-17s flying into and out of Kabul airport.
Approximately 19,000 people were evacuated from Kabul over a period of 24 hours ending early this morning, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday.
“This is the result of 42 U.S. military flights which carried approximately 11,200 evacuees, and 48 coalition flights which carried 7,800 people, for a total of 90 flights out of Kabul,” Psaki said, noting there was a flight about every 39 minutes.
The 42 U.S. military aircraft included 37 C-17s and five C-130s. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said “north of 4,400” Americans have been evacuated, with about 5,400 of 5,800 U.S. troops still at the airport.
Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director of the Joint Staff for regional operations, said Wednesday that there are more than 10,000 people at the airport awaiting departure.
Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme Allied commander Europe, said 55 flights have been received at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, with 5,783 evacuees “on deck” there. Three flights went into Naval Air Station Sigonella in Italy with 662 evacuees.
On Monday, the first set of flights departed Ramstein for the continental United States and to date, a total of 1,605 evacuees have made the trip, he said.
“And at this time, we’ve had zero security incidents. And a security incident is defined when we witness an evacuee exhibit malign behavior and we have to put that evacuee in a holding cell. We have had no incidents,” Wolters said.
Wolters added that “we want to screen for COVID in all levels. And once the evacuees arrive, we have a medical screening segment.”
Over 7,000 evacuees have been processed and just under 100 needed “to go to an additional tent” after they were initially medically screened, he said. Less than 25 needed additional medical treatment at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, he said.