kabul evacuation

Kabul Evacuation Pace Increases as US Citizens, Afghans Struggle to Get to Airport

Airlift operations are increasing at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, with about 20 C-17s flying out per day in what U.S. military leaders say is likely to be the country’s second-largest non-combatant evacuation operation in its history. “Right now, our mission is to secure that airfield, defend that airfield, and evacuate all those who have been faithful to us,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said during an Aug. 18 briefing. As of early Aug. 18, 18 C-17s and one C-130 had arrived at Hamid Karzai International Airport with another 700 troops, bringing the total number of American forces there to 4,500. As of the same time, 18 C-17s also had departed with about 2,000 people, including about 325 American citizens, as well as Afghans and NATO personnel. Over the ensuing 24 hours, the Pentagon expected that number to stay consistent. The Defense Department still thinks it can fly out about 5,000 people per day, with aircraft leaving at a rate of about one per hour.
afghan interpreters

Veterans Scramble to Provide Support for Stranded Afghan Interpreters

In the months after President Joe Biden announced the U.S. would fully withdraw from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, veterans groups lobbied on behalf of Afghan nationals looking to obtain special immigrant visas, urging Congress and the White House to speed up the bureaucratic process for interpreters and other partners to ensure they would not be left to face a rapidly advancing Taliban. Now that the Taliban has seized control after an astonishingly quick conquest, U.S. troops remain only at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, and thousands of SIV seekers and their families face danger while veterans halfway across the globe scramble to help as many as they can.
air force contingency response

These Airmen Closed Down Bases in Afghanistan. Now They’re Back to Run the Evacuation

The Air Force’s specialized emergency response team, which was called upon months ago to close down bases in Afghanistan, is back in the country to help bring Americans and partners out as the Taliban surrounds the last remaining U.S.-controlled airfield. The Pentagon announced Aug. 18 that Airmen with the 621st Contingency Response Group at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., are deploying back to Afghanistan, just weeks after returning home, to help run air operations at Hamid Karzai International Airport. Defense Department photographs show Airmen with the 821st Contingency Response Group from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., also deploying. They, too, recently returned home from Afghanistan. Air Force Magazine spoke exclusively with some Airmen who served in this mission before the Taliban’s advance.
CSTC-A, TAAC-W discuss development of sustainable, fiscally sound basing strategy with SIGAR

Final SIGAR Report Points to Afghanistan’s Growing Dependence as U.S. Drew Down

The 11th and final Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) comprehensive lessons learned report reveals telltale signs over the 10-year U.S. drawdown that the Afghan government could not sustain progress made nor provide for its own security. The scathing report, released Aug. 16, also criticizes the $145 billion reconstruction effort for harboring unrealistic goals and timelines but commends social progress such as lower child mortality rates and increased per capita GDP and literacy rates. “If the goal was to rebuild and leave behind a country that can sustain itself and pose little threat to U.S. national security interests, the overall picture is bleak,” the report’s conclusion reads.
homeland defense

NORTHCOM Presses Case for New Approach to Homeland Defense

The head of U.S. Northern Command says the United States needs to modernize its communication and warning systems for homeland defense to ensure leaders have more time and better options before launching a kinetic response to potential threats. Future operations will inevitably demand that multiple combatant commands work together, often in multiple domains, to defend the U.S. homeland, said Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, who leads both NORTHCOM and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, speaking Aug. 17 at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event. “I think this is the way of the future, whether that be for a peer competitor or even a rogue actor who has access to information that creates opportunities for them to challenge [us] across all domains.”

Radar Sweep

Ousted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani 'Welcomed' into United Arab Emirates on 'Humanitarian Grounds'

NBC News

Ousted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has been “welcomed” into the United Arab Emirates on “humanitarian grounds,” the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement Aug. 18. Ghani fled Afghanistan as the Taliban approached Kabul, the capital, Aug. 15, less than 24 hours after he tried to rally his people in a televised address in which he pledged not to give up the "achievements" of the 20 years since the U.S. toppled the Taliban.

Northrop, L3 Demonstrate JADC2-Enabling Network Tech

Breaking Defense

Northrop Grumman and L3Harris Technologies last week demonstrated a new networking capability that could become integral to enabling the Pentagon’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and All Domain Operations concepts. The two companies teamed up for a proof-of-concept demo in a live over-the-air test, which involved Northrop’s open architecture advanced network gateway integrated with L3’s high-capacity backbone (HCB) network capability.

DOD Shifting Readiness Priorities from Short-Term to Strategic

Federal News Network

One of the Defense Department’s top officials says the military is at an inflection point when it comes to readiness: shifting from immediate needs to a more strategic, long-term strategy. That approach will be helpful as the department tries to keep its competitive advantage against near-peer competitors such as China and Russia, said Shawn Skelly, DOD assistant secretary for readiness and force management, during an Aug. 17 Professional Services Council event.

OPINION: The Sorrow and Defeat of Watching the Taliban Reclaim Afghanistan

The War Horse

“We set an artificial, and strategically hollow, goal to withdraw all troops by the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11. The anniversary, and the end to America’s war in Afghanistan, have morphed into convenient bookends on a historian’s shelf somehow symbolizing the beginning and conclusion of America’s war on terror, a war which arguably has no real end, even now. By merging the beginning and the supposed end, we diminish the significance of the lives lost then and after, and leave those who fought in Afghanistan over two decades confused about the true utility of their sacrifices,” writes Jen Burch, a former Air Force Staff Sergeant and Director of Valor Bridge, a transition program created to address the unique needs of veterans exiting the military.

China’s Military Conducts Assault Drills in Seas Near Taiwan

The Associated Press

Chinese fighter jets, anti-submarine aircraft, and combat ships conducted assault drills near Taiwan on Aug. 17 with the People’s Liberation Army saying the exercise was necessary to safeguard China’s sovereignty. China has stepped up military exercises around self-ruled Taiwan, which it considers its own territory. Recent U.S.-Taiwan provocations severely violated Chinese sovereignty, Eastern Theater Command spokesman Shi Yi said in a statement.

Fighter Jets Buzzing Pre-Dawn Kabul ‘Routine’ and ‘Will Continue’ until End of Evac, CENTCOM says

Military Times

The pre-dawn darkness in Kabul came alive with the distinct sound of American fighter jets Aug. 18, causing Twitter to light up with speculation and concern. Initial speculation ranged from trouble at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul to a potential U.S. seizure of Bagram Airfield, which is currently in the hands of the Taliban. But Navy Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, told Military Times that the presence of U.S. fighter aircraft was routine and would continue until the evacuation mission concludes.

ICBM Modernization And Sustainment: A Comprehensive Approach to Building GBSD

Air Force Magazine

With the Air Force aiming to develop, deploy, and maintain the new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent at a rapid pace starting in 2029 and lasting for decades, the need for a broad strategy encompassing cybersecurity, digital engineering, and other new technologies has never been greater, and that will require integrated support like never before.

Taliban Militants Violently Disperse Rare Afghan Protest

The Associated Press

Taliban militants attacked protesters Aug. 18 in eastern Afghanistan who dared to take down the Taliban's banner and replace it with the country’s flag, killing at least one person and fueling fears about how the insurgents would govern this fractious nation. While the Taliban has insisted it will respect human rights unlike during its previous draconian rule, the attack in Jalalabad comes as many Afghans are hiding at home or trying to flee the country as allegations of abuses by the loosely controlled militant organization grow.

Afghanistan Collapse Won’t Dramatically Alter Defense Spending

CQ Roll Call

The Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan could mean changes for the billions of dollars the Pentagon sought in the next fiscal year, but it's unlikely to change the trajectory of the larger defense policy and spending bills currently under consideration in Congress. “The most likely outcome is there’s a lot of handwringing, there’s a lot of sadness, there’s a lot of disappointment in the way things are going down in Afghanistan,” said Todd Harrison, the director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “But it ultimately does not affect the defense authorization or appropriations process in any significant way.”

Jay Bonci Sworn In as Air Force CTO


Jay Bonci was sworn in as chief technology officer within the Office of the Air Force CIO on Aug. 17. He is a former longtime employee of cybersecurity and cloud service company Akamai Technologies, where he held senior roles within the company’s Department of Defense and federal tech divisions, including as senior director for public sector engineering. Bonci will oversee a vast tech portfolio in the Air and Space Forces within the office of current CIO Lauren Barrett Knausenberger.

AFSEC Changes Command

Air Force release

Maj. Gen. Jeannie M. Leavitt became the Department of the Air Force chief of safety and commander of the Air Force Safety Center during a change-of-command ceremony at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., on Aug. 13. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. presided as Maj. Gen. John T. Rauch Jr. relinquished command after serving as the top safety officer since August 2017.

One More Thing Subscription Required

Joseph Galloway, Chronicler and Champion of Soldiers in Vietnam, Dies at 79

Washington Post

Joseph L. Galloway, whose reporting took him from the jungles of Vietnam to the halls of the Kremlin and the deserts of Iraq, was 79 when he died Aug. 18 at a hospital in Concord, N.C. The cause was complications from a heart attack, said his friend and former editor John Walcott. Galloway witnessed and participated in the battle of Ia Drang, the first major battle of the Vietnam War, later recounting the battle in a best-selling book, “We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young” (1992), written with retired Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore.