The Pentagon said Wednesday morning that between Tuesday 3 a.m. and Wednesday 3 a.m., the military evacuated about 2,000 from the Kabul airport, including 325 Americans.
That small number of Americans is compared to the estimated 11,000 Americans trapped in Afghanistan, following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and the Biden administration’s disastrously-executed withdrawal.
“Eighteen C-17s have departed in the last 24 hours. These flights have carried around 2,000 passengers, and I can confirm that 325 of those passengers are American citizens,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at an off-camera briefing with reporters.
He said the other passengers on the C-17s during that period were Afghans and NATO personnel.
The 325 Americans is in addition to the 165 Americans flown out in a prior flight. It is not clear how many Americans have been evacuated from Afghanistan to date.
According to Biden administration officials, there is no way to guarantee the safe passage to the Kabul airport, which is currently surrounded by the Taliban and Taliban checkpoints, but operated by U.S. and international forces trying to evacuate American civilians and other nationals.
Kirby said currently there are about 4,500 American troops at the airport, with several hundreds more to come in the near-term. He said the amount of U.S. troops flying in will be determined day by day. President Joe Biden has so far authorized up to 6,000 American forces for the evacuation mission.
The Pentagon has said its goal is to evacuate as many people as possible, but its “max capacity’ would be 5,000 to 9,000 per day at “full throttle.” It is not clear when they will reach that capacity.
“Five- to 9,000 [is] the max capacity that we think we’ll be able to reach when we’re at full throttle,” Kirby said.
Kirby predicted the next 24 hours would bring the about the same number of evacuees.
“The goal is to get as many people out as quickly as we can,” he said. “It’s not a certain number per day, we’re simply trying to get out as many people as we can.”
“There are a lot of factors that affect the numbers, to include the ability to process people through the gate and to do it quickly,” he said.