by Debra Heine
Army Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor and Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby dodged a reporter’s question about whether the U.S. military is buying aviation fuel from the Taliban as evacuation efforts continue at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul.
During a briefing at the Pentagon Thursday, Kirby also revealed that of the 2,000 people evacuated over the last 24 hours, only 300 of them were Americans.
“How are you fueling your planes… are you now in a position that you have to buy fuel from the Taliban?” asked Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin during a briefing at the Pentagon.
“The assets on HKIA … on the airfield are what we need to maintain the operations,” Taylor responded hesitantly. “There’s plenty of fuel sustainment capability at HKIA airport.”
“So that’s a no, you’re not buying fuel from the Taliban?” Griffin pressed.
Taylor moved aside to let Kirby field that question.
“There’s plenty of fuel, sustainment capability,” Kirby said, not answering the question. “And as you know Jen, we have the ability on our own—logistics ability—to fuel our aircraft.”
Q: How are you fueling your planes… are you now in a position that you have to buy fuel from the Taliban?
Taylor: The assets on HKIA… are what we need.
Q: So that's a no? You're not buying fuel from the Taliban?
Kirby: There's plenty of fuel. pic.twitter.com/yx7Aoy1SPU
— Spencer Brown (@itsSpencerBrown) August 19, 2021
Around 4,500 US soldiers are providing security at the airport, but the Taliban has reportedly been making it difficult for anyone trying to make it to the terminals.
Approximately 7,000 people have been evacuated since August 14, Taylor announced at the briefing. But neither he, nor Kirby could say how many of them were Americans – or how many Americans remain in Taliban-controlled country.
“I don’t know,” Kirby said when asked. “The State Department would be a better place to go for an estimate of how many Americans are in Afghanistan or in and around Kabul. That is not a figure that the US military would know.”
John Kirby says "I don't know" when asked how many Americans remain trapped in Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/jSpASTijtv
— Ian Miles Cheong @ stillgray.substack.com (@stillgray) August 19, 2021
Kirby said that 0f the 2,000 people evacuated over the last 24 hours, “nearly 300 of them were Americans.”
Pentagon Press Sec John Kirby:
"Of the 2,000 over the last 24 hours" who have been evacuated from Afghanistan "nearly 300 of them were Americans." pic.twitter.com/m3J0ggfrqs
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) August 19, 2021
U.S. officials meanwhile, speaking on the condition of anonymity, are saying that the Taliban is flying high with a “new U.S.-Made War chest.”
According to Reuters, “the current intelligence assessment was that the Taliban are believed to control more than 2,000 armored vehicles, including U.S. Humvees, and up to 40 aircraft potentially including UH-60 Black Hawks, scout attack helicopters, and ScanEagle military drones.”
Current and former U.S. officials say there is concern those weapons could be used to kill civilians, be seized by other militant groups such as Islamic State to attack U.S.-interests in the region, or even potentially be handed over to adversaries including China and Russia.
Only a month ago, according to Reuters, “Afghanistan’s ministry of defense posted on social media photographs of seven brand new helicopters arriving in Kabul delivered by the United States.”
“They’ll continue to see a steady drumbeat of that kind of support, going forward,” Austin told reporters a few days later at the Pentagon.
“We — we have provided — begun the provision of the aircraft that we mentioned to you earlier, that we’re going to provide on Friday three newly-refurbished UH-60s that landed in — in Kabul, and they’ll continue to see a steady drumbeat of that kind of support, going forward. We’ve talked about, you know, setting up a — a — a node to be able to conduct over-the-horizon strikes. That node is in place,” Austin said on July 21.
Now, “everything that hasn’t been destroyed is the Taliban’s now,” according one U.S. official.
Representative Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, told Reuters in an email, “We have already seen Taliban fighters armed with U.S.-made weapons they seized from the Afghan forces. This poses a significant threat to the United States and our allies.”
Former President Trump fired off a statement Thursday, reiterating what he said on Fox News about what the Biden Regime should have done in the Afghanistan drawdown.
“First you bring out all of the American citizens. Then you bring out ALL equipment. Then you bomb the bases into smithereens—AND THEN YOU BRING OUT THE MILITARY. You don’t do it in reverse order like Biden and our woke Generals did.
No chaos, no death—they wouldn’t even know we left!” Trump said.
Americans are being told they will have to pay up to $2,000 to be flown out of Afghanistan, Politico reports.
Even though U.S. officials tell NatSec Daily and others that evacuation flights from Kabul will be free, people trying to catch a plane in the Afghan capital say differently. One person said State Department staff were seeking large payments — up to $2,000 — from American passengers and even more from non-U.S. citizens.
When we relayed what this person told us to the State Department, a spokesperson didn’t deny that this is happening.
“U.S. law requires that evacuation assistance to private U.S. citizens or third country nationals be provided ‘on a reimbursable basis to the maximum extent practicable.’ The situation is extremely fluid, and we are working to overcome obstacles as they arise,” the spokesperson said.
In other words, the Biden administration may request payments for evacuation flights.
Also, via the Wall Street Journal, yet another story about the Biden Regime being warned that Afghanistan would collapse if the U.S. military completely withdrew.
About two dozen State Department officials serving at the embassy in Kabul sent an internal memo to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and another top State Department official last month warning of the potential collapse of Kabul soon after the Aug. 31 troop withdrawal deadline, according to a U.S. official and a person familiar with the cable.
The cable, sent via the State Department’s confidential dissent channel, warned of rapid territorial gains by the Taliban and the subsequent collapse of Afghan security forces, and offered recommendations on ways to mitigate the crisis and speed up an evacuation, the two people said.
The cable, dated July 13, also called for the State Department to use tougher language in describing the atrocities being committed by the Taliban, one of the people said.
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Debra Heine reports for American Greatness.
Photo “I have a question” by The U.S. Army CC BY 2.0.