WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is slated to address the nation on the evacuation efforts in Kabul of American citizens, U.S. Embassy staff, citizens of NATO countries, at-risk Afghan nationals as well as Afghan nationals who have qualified for special immigrant visas.
Biden’s remarks, scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET, come as U.S. forces rush to airlift as many people as possible out of the country ahead of a self-imposed deadline to depart Afghanistan by August 31. The remarks will be the president’s second public address on the crisis in less than a week.
“We’re going to do everything in our power to get all Americans out and our allies out,” Biden told ABC News earlier this week, adding that he may consider extending the deadline of a full troop withdrawal.
The president has defended his decision to pull out U.S. forces despite a mounting humanitarian crisis in the wake of the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan, arguing that there was no way “to have gotten out without chaos ensuing.”
Thousands of Afghans have fled to the gates of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul seeking a flight out of the country after the Taliban swiftly claimed control of the country.
Earlier this week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters that the Pentagon does not currently have the capability to safely escort Americans to the airport for evacuation.
“I don’t have the capability to go out and extend operations currently into Kabul,” Austin said when asked about those who cannot reach the gates of the airport because they are behind Taliban checkpoints.
The United States is relying on an agreement with the Taliban to guarantee the safe passage of Americans. While the State Department has said the Taliban have kept their commitments on the safe passage of U.S. citizens, some Afghan nationals are being stopped by the militants.
The White House said Friday that the U.S. has airlifted about 9,000 people out of Kabul by cargo aircraft in the past six days.
On Friday, the U.S. military evacuated approximately 3,000 people, including 350 U.S. citizens, from the airport on 16 C-17 Globemaster military cargo flights.
Since the end of July, the U.S. has evacuated approximately 14,000 people from Afghanistan, a figure that includes American citizens, U.S. Embassy staff, citizens of NATO countries, at-risk Afghan nationals as well as Afghan nationals who have qualified for special immigrant visas.
The Pentagon has previously said that its goal is to airlift approximately 5,000 to 9,000 people a day out of Kabul. U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William “Hank” Taylor said Thursday that the departure tempo is dependent on who has been cleared to leave the country through the State Department.
Taylor expects a departure tempo of one U.S. military cargo aircraft per hour. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has moved about 5,000 U.S. troops to Kabul in order to provide security and help with evacuation efforts.