Desperate times call for desperate measures. And the situation in Afghanistan is desperate.
The Pentagon is finally ratcheting up efforts to evacuate as many Americans and foreigners who worked with the U.S. out of Afghanistan.
Sunday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin activated what’s called Stage 1 of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program. That allows the military to use commercial airlines, and they are asking six airlines to contribute 18 aircraft.
American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, Omni Air and United Airlines are going to be providing between two and four planes per airline.
These aircraft will not be used to fly into Kamid Karzai Airport in Kabul. These planes will help with transporting passengers to safe havens and interim staging areas located outside of Afghanistan.
Having this assistance according to Kirby will allow the military transport planes to focus on the tough job of getting people out of Kabul.
The use of the commercial planes should not impact the commercial carriers ability to carry out their usual routes.
U.S. General William Taylor said Saturday that 17,000 people have been evacuated out of Afghanistan, but there are up to 15,000 more Americans and between 50,000 and 65,000 Afghans waiting to get out.
This is the third time the Pentagon has tapped into the CRAF program. The first time was in Operation Desert Storm in 1990 an then again during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2002-2003.