The New Jersey military base will accommodate refugees from Afghanistan as the United States is working on tens of thousands of Afghan flights from Taliban-owned countries.
About 39 miles northeast of Philadelphia, the joint base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is the fourth base preparing or already accepting evacuees.
The other three bases are Fort Lee, Virginia, Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and Fort Bliss, New Mexico.
The fourth addition will be made as the US military expands its target on the number of evacuees that can be accommodated in the base.
The top line number used to be 22,000, but now it’s 25,000.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told Washington reporters, “If you have four bases, our goal is to reach capacity (not necessarily the actual number), but about 25,000. It ’s about strengthening people ’s abilities. ” “We’re not there yet. It will take days or weeks. I think we can combine all four to reach that level.”
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst did not answer questions about what preparations are being made and when the base is ready to accept evacuees.
The US Northern Command said the base would provide temporary housing to Afghans with special immigrant visas.
Some Afghans arrived in Fort Lee last month. Fort McCoy began accepting Afghans on Sunday.
“This afternoon, special immigrant visa applicants, their families and other endangered individuals arrived here,” Brig said. General Chris Norrie, commander of MTF McCoy, said in a statement.
The number of Afghans arriving was not disclosed and the base did not respond to requests for more information.
Approximately 1,000 military personnel from various US Army and Army reserve units are gathering at the fort to assist evacuees.
“The Fort McCoy community is proud to join the U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Northern Command, and Department of Defense teams to assist the Department of State in this mission. Temporary guests begin processing special immigrant visas. We look forward to the opportunity to treat you with the utmost respect and hospitality in Wisconsin, “says Norrie.
Many lawmakers have expressed their support for welcoming Afghans fleeing Taliban-controlled nations, especially those who have supported the US military between 2001 and the present. However, some have expressed concern about how well evacuees are being scrutinized.
“I’m deeply worried about reports of as many as 5,000 Afghans heading to the United States per day, many of them with valid visas and basic identification,” Republican Rep. Tom Tiffany said in a statement last week. I don’t even have a book. “
“Biden administration officials said many of these individuals will be transferred to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, but how many will come, what screening will be done before arrival, or here. Did not elaborate on what would happen after landing in Wisconsin. “He added. “Curiously, the White House also made it clear whether these individuals would be detained during the review or if they would see the same kind of catch-and-release policy we saw at the southern border. did not.”
Major Hank Taylor told reporters on Saturday that intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, and counterterrorism experts are screening and reviewing all Afghan visa applicants before they are admitted to the United States. Said. He didn’t elaborate.
“Anyone who arrives in the United States will have a background check,” President Joe Biden said on Sunday.
According to the State Department, evacuees do not have to test negative for COVID-19 before leaving Afghanistan.