On Monday, a group of nearly four dozen veteran organizations requested a meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss the evacuation of U.S. partners in Afghanistan and “fulfilling our commitment to our Afghan allies.”
“Failing to meet our obligations to these Afghans would not only be a national security risk—harming America’s reputation abroad and eroding the trust in our armed forces that is critical for future operations—it would also condemn veterans and survivors of the conflict in Afghanistan to a lifetime of moral injury,” the group wrote in their letter to Biden.
Forty-five organizations signed a letter to Biden, urging him to agree to a virtual meeting. The coalition wants to ensure there is a comprehensive plan to get all citizens and allies out of the country and say they want to assist in every way possible. In addition, the group wants Biden to ensure that all allies are granted emergency status to enter the United States and have access to resettlement benefits.
The Taliban seized the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Aug. 15 as the Afghan government collapsed and top government officials fled the country, prompting a frenzied evacuation of U.S. diplomats, citizens, and allies from the country.
After the closure of Bagram Airbase and withdrawal of all U.S. military troops, Biden was forced to deploy 6,000 troops to help secure the Kabul airport as thousands of Afghans flooded the airport to flee Taliban rule. Biden has faced sharp bipartisan criticism for his handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal.
Many, including veteran groups, have urged Biden to spare no resources to evacuate U.S. citizens and allies who supported the United States’ effort in Afghanistan. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Biden’s top administration officials have reached out to the organizers of the letter and will meet with the coalition.
“We’ve been in regular contact with a wide range of veterans groups on Afghanistan and will continue to be, and we’re in touch with the organizers of this letter to arrange a meeting with senior White House officials to discuss this letter,” said Psaki, adding, “The VA [Veterans Affairs] is also working with VSOs and outside advocates on how to assist SIV [Special Immigrant Visa] applicants, which I know is a primary concern to a number of these groups, as it is to us.”
National security adviser Jake Sullivan told a reporter during the same press briefing Monday that the United States is working around the clock to get people out of Afghanistan.
“They [the U.S. military] have now facilitated the evacuation of more than 37,000 people out of the country since Aug. 14—American citizens, third-country nationals, our Afghan allies, and Afghans at risk of persecution or worse. In the last 24 hours alone, 28 U.S. military flights have evacuated approximately 10,400 people from Kabul.”