Pentagon forces commercial airlines to help evacuate Afghanistan

The Defense Department will oblige commercial airlines to assist in the evacuation of Afghans and US personnel from Afghanistan, the third time the United States has activated what is known as the Civilian Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) .

Eighteen aircraft will be used, including three from American Airlines, three from Delta Air Lines, three from Atlas Air, three from Omni Air, two from Hawaii Airlines and four from United Airlines. The planes will not fly to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement, but will transport people from “temporary shelters and provisional assembly bases.”

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“They will be used for the subsequent movement of passengers from temporary shelters and interim staging bases,” Kirby said. “Activating the CRAF increases passenger movement beyond organic capacity and allows military aircraft to focus on operations to and from Kabul.”

USTRANSCOM will have control of the mission, but the planes will retain their civilian status under FAA regulations, according to the Pentagon.

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Teleprinter Security Last Switch Switch %
AAL AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP, INC. 18.50 -0.23 -1.23%
DAL DELTA AIRLINES, INC. 38.12 +0.19 + 0.50%
HA HLDGS HAWAEN 18.08 +0.15 + 0.84%
UAL UNITED AIRLINES HOLDINGS, INC. 44.03 +0.10 + 0.23%

Airlines will be compensated as part of the agreement. Kirby said the Pentagon “does not foresee any major impact on commercial flights” following the activation of the fleet.

This is the third time that the fleet has been activated. The first took place during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in 1990-1991, and the second during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2002-2003.

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Also on Sunday, Fox learned that the Pentagon was planning to temporarily house Afghans arriving in the United States at the Dulles Expo Center in Washington, DC, before transporting them to other locations, including Fort Lee, Virginia; Fort Bliss, Texas; and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

Jennifer Griffin of Fox News contributed to this report.


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