Federal Employees News Digest
Afghanistan: "Do everything possible"
- By FEND Staff
- Sep 07, 2021
The U.S. ended its two-decade military mission in Afghanistan—along with its NATO allies—on Aug. 30, evacuating 120,000-plus military and civilian Americans, Afghan and European allies in the largest U.S.-coordinated noncombat airlift in history.
Thousands of U.S. forces and feds—including civilian State, DOD and other agencies—aided by the deposed government’s forces—secured Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport and processed evacuees out of the country.
Final flights began in mid-August, as Taliban insurgents took Kabul, and the State Department quickly evacuated the U.S. Embassy compound—but then briefly surged at the airport to assist in the evacuation. The operation was tragically, but temporarily, interrupted on Aug. 26, when a suicide bomber on site killed over 180 people including 13 U.S. service personnel.
State’s lead employee organization aired its determination at the outset of the evacuation.
“Now is the time to support our colleagues and the servicemembers who remain behind in Afghanistan or are in the process of returning to protect and assist with evacuation efforts,” Eric Rubin, the president of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), urged the U.S. to transport to safety, and to admit as refugees, as many Afghan allies as possible. “We hope and pray that many of the Afghan citizens who assisted us and the multilateral coalition in our efforts will be able to reach safe-haven and begin their lives anew.”
“We recognize and deeply regret that some will almost certainly be left behind,” Rubin continued. “We urge the U.S and allied governments to do everything possible to help those who wish to leave, and to insist on the safety of all those who remain.”
The AFSA president also spoke to State employees’ pain after two decades in the country.
“The fall of Kabul was a painful and wrenching day for all of us, especially for our Foreign Service colleagues, members of other U.S. government agencies, non-governmental organizations and members of the U.S. and allied militaries who served their country under difficult and at times perilous circumstances in the two-decade long war in Afghanistan,” Rubin said. “We lost treasured Foreign Service and Foreign Service National colleagues and remember with deep respect and appreciation the several thousand U.S. servicemembers who lost their lives and many more who came home grievously injured, physically and emotionally.”