If Joe Biden activates the CRAF, this would mean that commercial airlines companies can possibly be required to help with the evacuation process in Afghanistan after the president botched the withdrawal, leaving thousands of Americans and U.S. allies left in the country trying to flee in fear for their lives in a country conquered by the Taliban terrorists.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Biden administration is already making leeway to invoke the CRAF to help with the evacuation from Afghanistan. Doing this would mean Biden has come to terms with finally ramping up the evacuation process by requiring commercial companies to help the C-17 aircraft transport the evacuees from the region. CRAF is authorized under the Defense Production Act, which former President Donald Trump used last year to help with the manufacturing and production of equipment to combat the Chinese coronavirus.
The WSJ reported:
The White House is expected to consider activating the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, or CRAF, created in 1952 in the wake of the post-World War II Berlin Airlift, to provide nearly 20 commercial jets from up to five airlines to augment U.S. military efforts to transport Afghan evacuees from bases in the region, according to U.S. officials.
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Officials are considering alternatives for ramping up the evacuation effort, which include expanding the number of bases in the region to reduce overcrowding, officials said, a move that could augment the use of civilian airlines or avert the need for them. Additional military bases in the U.S. also are being designated to provide housing for arriving Afghan evacuees.
The report noted that the civilian planes would not be allowed to fly to and from the airport in Kabul; instead, it would help transport the thousands of Americans and Afghan allies in airbases in Qatar, Bahrain, and Germany. Doing this would relieve the strain on bases in the region, which are quickly being filled with Americans and Afghans.
Initial notices were allegedly sent on Friday, however, the report said the “White House, Pentagon and Commerce officials hadn’t yet issued final approvals for its use, and alternative options still could be instituted, the officials said.”
The WSJ added:
In another aviation move, the Transportation Department issued an order Friday granting foreign carriers that wouldn’t otherwise be allowed to land in the U.S. blanket authority to conduct U.S.-government-sponsored evacuation flights to U.S. airports, until Sept. 30.
An ABC News foreign affairs reporter confirmed the WSJ report in a tweet, “US airlines have been put on notice that the Civil Reserve Air Fleet could be activated-meaning commercial airlines could be compelled to assist Afghan evacuation efforts from airbases hosting evacuees around the world.”
The reporter added, “A network of ex military, CIA and Afghan veterans around the world have formed a civilian rescue group, called ‘OPERATION DUNKIRK’ to help evacuate Afghan interpreters and those who helped the US, to escape Kabul.”
The military has already been using C-17 cargo aircraft for evacuation. Still, the WSJ reported that such aircraft are not suited for overseas flights, and some planes have been carrying 400 to 600 people on board.
One official allegedly told the WSJ that is about velocity:
It’s all about increasing velocity and moving the most number of evacuees as quickly and as efficiently as possible. …We want to utilize our gray-tail [military] aircraft to take evacuees to Europe and the Middle East, then they will unload there and get aboard these wide-bodied aircraft with 300 or more seats that will more comfortably fly across the pond.
Pentagon officials are already looking at viable bases to house everyone in. “A tent city is being erected at the New Jersey base and medical supplies, food, water, restrooms, lighting and other equipment are being installed there now, officials said,” according to the WSJ, noting that some of the evacuees can potentially be there as early as next week.
Follow Jacob Bliss on Twitter @jacobmbliss.