UPDATED 3:21 PM PT – Monday, August 23, 2021
Major Gen. Hank Taylor spoke to the press about the latest information regarding the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. In a press conference on Monday, Gen. Taylor said a stunning 17,000 people have been moved out of Afghanistan in the last 24 hours alone.
Since the withdrawal picked up steam on August 14, over 37,000 have left. When asked how many Americans specifically have been evacuated from the country however, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby was unable to give a firm answer.
“I’m just gonna leave it at several right now…because I think the number is very fluid and it literally changes nearly by the hour,” he mentioned. “…I’m just going to leave it at several thousand right now.”
Military personnel are working closely with @StateDept officials during ongoing evacuations from Kabul, Afghanistan, where security and safety are top priorities. Learn more at: https://t.co/HsffSQoNtA.
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) August 23, 2021
Kirby also had no details on the reported shooting at the Kabul airport, which left one Afghan dead. When asked about the withdrawal date, he said the mission was to be completed by August 31 and an extension date was not being discussed.
In addition, neither Kirby nor Gen. Taylor could answer on reports that the British have been shut out of communications between the U.S. and the Taliban. Kirby also had no answer about American weapons left behind for the Taliban to use themselves.
“I don’t have an exact inventory of what equipment the Afghans had at their disposal that now might be at risk,” he stated. “Obviously, we don’t want to see any weapons or systems to fall into hands of people that would use them in such a way to harm our interests or those of our partners and allies.”
.@StateDeptSPOX briefs the press on updates in Afghanistan: State Department employees are working around-the-clock to help evacuate American citizens. Our team made several thousand calls over the weekend and those efforts continue. pic.twitter.com/iATjPO1Ic5
— Department of State (@StateDept) August 23, 2021
However, the Pentagon wasn’t only giving vague answers. Pentagon officials were very clear vaccine mandates for service members and other military employees would be implemented following the recent FDA approval of the Pfizer jab.
“Now that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved, the Department is prepared to issue updated guidance requiring all service members to be vaccinated. A timeline for vaccination completion will be provided in the coming days,” Kirby explained. “The health of the force is as always, our military and civilian employees, families and communities a top priority.”
Mandates only applied to the Pfizer vaccine, with no plans to extend to other jabs at this time. The Pentagon is planning to bring more updates as information becomes available.