While some senior Pentagon officials still insist that the Afghan government and military are capable of defending the country from the Taliban once the United States-led coalition withdraws this summer, Congress feels differently. 

A bipartisan group of Congressional lawmakers is urging the Biden White House to begin transporting Afghan allies “immediately” to a safe zone such as Guam ahead of the full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan by September 11.

Elizabeth Neumann, a former Homeland Security Department official in the Trump administration, said that “we are aware and appreciate that the National Security Council, the Department of Defense and the State Department are very rapidly planning to figure out how to best help these allies, but with only six to eight weeks left before potential full withdrawal, it’s really time for action.”

Afghan ally and partner
Afghan interpreter Mohamad Javad is now a USAF airman after getting a visa to move to the U.S. (U.S. Air Force)

In a letter written on June 4, lawmakers led by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) wrote that they are “increasingly concerned” that the administration has not yet mobilized the Pentagon to help protect Afghan allies. The State Department’s current plan to approve special immigrant visas allowing thousands of Afghans to enter the United States is moving too slowly to avert the coming crisis, the letter said.

The letter added that the State Department application for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program (SIV) takes about 800 days while the U.S. is withdrawing in less than 100 days. So, the letter argues, without American support, the lives of our Afghan partners will be in mortal danger. 

“No U.S. entity — [including] the Department of Defense, Department of State, USAID, et al. — has the ability or authority to protect them in Afghanistan after our withdrawal.

“It would be a moral failure to transfer the responsibility to protect our Afghan partners onto the shoulders of the Afghan Government. The time is now to honor our promise,” the Congressmen wrote in their letter to the president.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley confirmed last week that while the military currently has no plan in place, nor has it been ordered to do so, it has started planning how it could evacuate Afghan interpreters and others.