The U.S. government is formulating plans to evacuate interpreters and others who worked for U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan over the past two decades, a top general said.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States recognizes there are a significant number of Afghans who supported the coalition and the United States, and that they could be at risk for retribution by the Taliban.
"There are plans being developed very, very rapidly here," he said in remarks on May 26 that were released on May 27.
Milley said the State Department is taking the lead on arranging for those who worked for U.S. forces to move to the United States.
"We recognize that a very important task is to ensure that we remain faithful to them, and that we do what is necessary to ensure their protection and, if necessary, get them out of the country if that is what they want to do," Milley said.
Many of the estimated 18,000 Afghan interpreters, commandos, and others who worked with U.S. forces have applied for visas to immigrate to the United States. Many worked in battlefield conditions helping U.S. troops fight Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and Islamic State extremists opposed to the government in Kabul.
U.S. lawmakers last week called for their evacuation before international troops pull out by September 11, 2021, ending two decades of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.
In April, U.S. President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of the remaining 2,500 to 3,500 U.S. troops and thousands of U.S. contractors. About 7,000 NATO troops are also being withdrawn.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told a hearing in Congress on May 27 that the withdrawal is "slightly" ahead of schedule.