AT Monitoring Desk
KABUL: The U.S. military is currently conducting retrograde operations to leave Afghanistan. U.S. military personnel there now will come home, and equipment in the country will also be shipped back, sold, destroyed or moved elsewhere. The deadline for withdrawal is Sept. 11, 2021.
While soldiers leave the country, many Afghans who provided support to the U.S. and its allies will remain behind. They and their families may face the threat of retribution for having provided support to the Americans. The Defense Department believes it’s important those individuals and their families are taken care of.
“We have a moral obligation to help those that have helped us over the past 20 years of our presence and work in Afghanistan,” David Helvey, the acting assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said during a hearing today before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Right now, Helvey said, the DOD is working with the State Department and other government agencies to look at programs, including the Special Immigrant Visa Program, as a solution to help partners in Afghanistan who won’t be retrograded out of the country along with soldiers, helicopters and weapons systems. But the SIP is limited in its ability, Helvey said.
“We’d like to be able to work with Congress to be able to increase the quotas and the resources for special immigrant visas,” Helvey said. “But there are certain categories of our Afghan partners that wouldn’t meet the thresholds for special immigrant visas, so we need to look at other tools and other mechanisms to help those that have helped us.”