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US Orders Private Airlines to Assist in Military Operations

US commercial airlines were ordered to assist in the evacuation of Americans and  partners from Afghanistan.
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Pentagon Orders Airlines

Pentagon Orders Airlines to Help Fly Afghan Evacuees

For only the third time in history, the Pentagon Orders Airlines to Assist in a Military Operation.

Airlines began positioning aircraft to comply with a Pentagon order, announced Sunday morning under a rarely invoked law, which compelled six airlines to contribute 18 planes to help with the evacuation. The first flights carrying evacuees were expected Monday. Officials said the commercial aircraft wouldn’t fly in and out of Kabul but would ferry evacuees to the U.S. from bases in Germany, Qatar and Bahrain to ease transport bottlenecks.

The airlift is now entering a critical phase, ramping up after days of mayhem at Kabul airport that stunned the world and dealt a serious blow to the Biden administration, which had predicted an orderly withdrawal only to see the Taliban seize Afghanistan’s capital in days. U.S. forces have strained to protect the airport and increase the number of departing flights ahead of Mr. Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline for the U.S. to exit from the country. On Sunday, Mr. Biden said discussions were under way among U.S. officials about extending the deadline.

The Pentagon’s orders to the commercial airlines marked only the third time in 70 years that such a step has been taken. The Pentagon requested aircraft from six airlines for a period of approximately one to two weeks, defense officials said.

American, Atlas Air, Delta, Hawaiian, Air Transport Services Group, and United Airlines are all providing planes for the mission. 

28,000 people have been evacuated on military aircraft with another 4,000 on civilian aircraft. 

The only other times this happened were in 1990-1991 and 2002-2003 Iraqi war efforts.

UN Statement 

Let's consider a UN statement made on August 20 and my response to it.

"The limiting factor is not the planes, The paradox is that we have more planes than passengers."

That "paradox" of course is precisely why the US needed to commandeer planes.

In case you still don't see it I can explain:

Clearly we had enough planes, too many in fact. As a result of having too many planes, we needed to commandeer more planes to make up for it.

Why We Need to Stay In

With the above Paradox fully explained, let's turn our attention to why we need to stay in. 

Please consider Congressman Seeking to Relaunch Afghan War Made Millions in Defense Contracting

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Few Lawmakers are as outspoken about the end of the war in Afghanistan as Michael Waltz, a Republican from Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

In recent weeks, Waltz has called on President Joe Biden to “reverse course,” relaunch military operations in the region, and “crush the Taliban offensive by committing American air power” supported by “special forces.”

Waltz couches his advocacy in his identity and experience. Not only is he a sitting member of Congress, but he is a former Green Beret, a former aide to Dick Cheney, and “a father … sickened by what’s to come for the Afghan women and girls that are being mercilessly abused by the Taliban and sold into sex slavery,” as he wrote in opinion column published last week in Fox News.

There’s one crucial part of Waltz’s experience he tends to leave out: Before his successful run for Congress in 2018, he managed a lucrative defense contracting firm with offices in Afghanistan. The company was recently sold to Pacific Architects and Engineers, or PAE, one of the largest war contractors the U.S. has hired to train and mentor Afghan security forces. The deal personally enriched Waltz by up to $26 million, a figure made public by a filing disclosed this month.

Congressional ethics disclosures show that in 2019, Waltz held up to $1 million in equity from Metis Solutions and up to $250,000 in options of Metis Solutions stock. 

For Waltz, the timing was impeccable. The sale occurred just before the formal announcement by both Donald Trump and Biden to finally end the war in Afghanistan. PAE’s stock is now down nearly 20 percent since last year, with the greatest drop in value occurring over the last month. The company has been reported as among the most harmed by the decision to draw down forces in Afghanistan.

If that does not fully explain why we were there and why we need to stay in, I suppose nothing will convince you.

Sarcasm Aside 

Sarcasm aside here is an excellent Tweet Thread by John Marshall

  1. One other point as long as I'm flogging this dead horse. Sunday shows today have seen countless claims that this is a terrible military debacle, the worst in decades, maybe the worst ever. And yet, at least as far as I know not a single member of the US military has been killed or even injured. 
  2. Indeed, it doesn't appear that a shot has even been fired in anger against them. Now, body counts aren't what measures success or defeat. But the US withdrew its forces according to plan and has reoccupied the civilian airport and overseen a a steady schedule of flights that have been coming and going virtually 24/7. 
  3. So basically 36 hrs of confusion and then a pretty orderly airlift. Meanwhile the top leaders of the govt we spent twenty years propping up have been holding seemingly convivial meetings with the Taliban political officials about the formation of the next government.
  4. I give a few details about that here: You Wouldn’t Know It From the US News Coverage, But …
  5. That must either mean that the situation is not quite as dire as is being claimed or we didn't even have a clear understanding of who was on which side. I suspect it's a bit of both.
  6. In any case, it's a relatively orderly unwinding of what seems pretty clearly to have been an illusion and an illusion that was underwritten by the pretty words of those casting the most blame.

Addendum

The original title of this post contained the word "commandeered" based on WSJ report "Pentagon Orders Airlines to Help With Afghan Evacuees",

A couple of readers pointed out the program was voluntary. Assuming so, I would have prefered the word "asked" or some explanation of the program. 

The first entry in the Oxford Dictionary is "officially take possession or control of (something), especially for military purposes." Seems to fit. 

The second entry is "take possession of (something) without authority."

Despite using a legitimate word, I corrected the title.

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