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Operation Allied Refuge (OAR)

Operation Allies Refuge (OAR)

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to 804th Transportation Detachment, 382nd Combat
Sustainment Support Battalion, help guide buses into position in support of
Operation Allies Refuge, July 29, 2021 at the Dulles International Airport in Virginia.
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cody Nelson)

Under severe pressure and scathing criticism from Congress and many sectors of the United States public the Biden administration was forced to step up its involvement in the evacuation and relocation of Afghan interpreters, Afghan workers who support the United States, and other high-risk Afghans. The White House announced Operation Allies Refuge (OAR) on July 14, 2021. The Biden administration, as well as the three previous administrations, did not show great diligence in monitoring the assistance provided to Afghan interpreters seeking refuge.

In fact, President Joe Biden has a history of not aiding the wartime allies of the United States who seek refuge in the U.S.

"The United States has no obligation to evacuate one, or 100,001, South Vietnamese",
Senator Joe Biden, April 23, 1975.

The Department of State (DOS) was initially directed to be the lead federal agency for the operation. It activated the Afghanistan Coordination Task Force (ACTF) on July 19, 2021. The DOS has requested DOD support - initially for 3,500 Afghan SIV applicants - but this climbed upward over time. On August 29, 2021, President Biden directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to lead implementation of ongoing efforts across the federal government to support the Afghan resettlement effort. The DHS is calling this Operation Allies Welcome.

The SIV program was created in 2006 for Iraqi and Afghan interpreters to provide permanent protection to Afghans who worked for the U.S. military or other U.S. government organizations.

The Numbers Evacuated During OAR

Operation Allies Refuge began on July 14, 2021 and ended on August 31, 2021. The first phase ran from July 14 to August 14 - during that time the U.S. evacuated 995 Afghans who had Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). The second phase ran from August 15 - 31 - during which the US evacuated 86,000 Afghans. Of these:

5,000 were Afghan American citizens
3,500 were Lawful Permanent Residents (Afghans with a green card)
3,000 were Afghans with a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV)

71,000 were Afghans who were evacuated that were at the right place at the right time - at the Kabul airport where security, initially, was almost non-existent and Afghans piled onto the airport and later aircraft heading to the Middle East. Most had no ties to the U.S. government or the U.S. miltiary. They made it to the United States and were granted Humanitarian Parole.

Left Behind? About 86,000 Afghans with fully-approved or SIV pending applications.

Info about OAR

Prior to Flights. All applicants will, prior to their flight to the U.S., undergo a thorough pre-flight medical screening including COVID testing and complete an intensive, mulit-agency security screening process. The medical exam will result in a fitness-to-fly pass. COVID vaccines are offered to the Afghans. They are also available at Fort Lee. This pre-flight process will likely take place in a third country. The State Department was in consultations with several countries in the Middle East and Central Asia for temporary destinations for the Afghans. The initial plan was to have charter flights transport the Afghans; however, military flights could be utilized.

DoD Support. The Department of Defense, in support of the Department of State, is providing transportation and temporary housing for Afghan special immigrant applicants and their family members recently brought to the United States for a special immigrant visa (SIV). This initiative will help Afghan citizens who helped the United States during its involvement in the long Afghan conflict - providing them with essential support at secure locations, where they and their famliies can complete the SIV process safely.

NORTHCOM. The lead agency for the Department of Defense is U.S. Northern Command. DOD will provide temporary medical screening, transportation, lodging, and general support on DOD installations. The U.S. Army North is the lead operational command for this DOD mission.

First Flight Arrives. The Department of State had planned on arranging flights for Afghan SIV applicants in the last week of July. On the morning of July 30, 2021, the first group of Afghan special immigrant applicants arrived in the United States under Operation Allies Refuge. The 200 Afghans arrived at Fort Lee, Virginia where they began the process to finish the remaining steps on their path to become an American immigrant. They had already completed extensive background checks and security screening by the intelligence community and the Departments of State and Homeland Security.

Initial Reception in the U.S. The initial base for housing the Afghans was Fort Lee. Over time, other installations were tasked with providing support.

After Arrival in U.S. Once the Afghan SIV immigrants have been paroled into the U.S and complete a medical exam, they will be resettled to cities across the country with assistance through the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). The Department of State is assisted by the International Organizaton for Migration (IOM) in the resettlement process. The IOM is assisted by the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, under the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

DoD IG Evaluation of Biometric Tracking of Afghans. The Inspector General of the Department of Defense will begin an evaluation to determine the extent to which the DoD is managing and tracking displaced persons from Afghanistan through the biometrics enrollment, screening, and vetting process. The locations to be evaluated include Fort Pickett, Quantico, and the Dulles Expo Center in Virginia. (PDF, Sep 9, 2021).

Over 70,000 Afghan special immigrants have become permanent residents in the United States since 2008.

OAR Dining Facility Fort Lee

Dining facility at Fort Lee for arriving Afghan SIV applicants.
(photo by Spc. Cody Nelson)


Evacuate Our Allies Coalition
This organization can provide assistance to those in the temporary bases set up for evacuees from Afghanistan. The Evacuate Our Allies Operations Center can be reached at (213) 358-7953.


Operation Allies Refuge - WikipediA

Operation Allies Refuge, U.S. Embassy in Afghanitan, press release, July 2021.

Fact Sheet. Department of Defense Support in the Continental United States to Operation Allies Refuge, U.S. Northern Command Public Affairs

Operation Allies Refuge, DVIDS.


News Accounts about Operation Allies Refuge

September 1, 2021. "U.S. housing 20,000 Afghan evacuees in 5 states, with another 40,000 overseas", CBS News. Eight military sites in Virginia, Wisconsin, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Indiana will house the Afghan refugees.

August 2, 2021. "Congressional Delegation Tours Operation Allies Refuge", Army News.

July 30, 2021. "Arrival of First Flight of Operation Allies Refuge", Press Statement, Department of State.

July 30, 2021. "White House Press Call on OAR", The White House.

July 30, 2021. "Statement of President Joe Biden on the Arrival of the First Flight of Operation Allies Refuge", The White House.

July 14, 2021. "Defense Department Will Provide Options for 'Operation Allies Refuge'", by C. Todd Lopez, DOD News.



Books about the Kabul non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) of August 2021,
evacuation of AMCITs, LPRs, SIVs, and others, and the Afghan Evac community and effort.

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