The Pentagon announced Friday that additional military bases in the US will be used to help support evacuation operations from Afghanistan.
“The Department of Defense can announce that it is authorized Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Fort Pickett, Virginia, and Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, to provide additional support to the US mission to evacuate Afghans special immigrant visa applicants, their families, and other at risk individuals,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters at a briefing.
Kirby said the three new bases join Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort Lee and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey in providing support, with the capacity of up to 50,000 Afghan special immigrant visa applicants and other evacuees.
“The Defense Department will continue to support the State Department in providing temporary housing sustainment and support inside the United States for a capacity of up to 50,000 Afghan special immigrant visa applicants, their families, and other at risk individuals,” Kirby said.
“US Northern Command will coordinate the details of all this with the State Department, the Department Homeland Security and of course the Department of Health and Human Services as necessary,” Kirby said.
He added that “it’ll be providing, provided, under presidential drawdown authority to the maximum extent possible, with additional support being provided on a reimbursable basis.”
Evacuees from Afghanistan are expected to arrive in Virginia at two of the new temporary housing facilities Saturday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday.
Northam said Fort Pickett has the capacity to house up to 3,800 refugees. Quantico is currently equipped to host 1,000, but can be upscaled to accommodate up to 5,000 people, per Northam’s announcement.
The evacuees are being tested for Covid-19 upon arrival unless they can show proof of a negative test result from the past 72 hours.
Only 20 people have tested positive in the 11 days since Virginia’s repatriation program began, according to Northam.
CNN has reached out to confirm how many refugees the state has taken in so far.