The U.S. military stopped evacuating vulnerable people out of Afghanistan at the end of August, but volunteer groups have continued to see who they can save.
Task Force Argo features Department of Defense personnel, active duty service members and veterans, special operators and intelligence analysts, coming together with one goal in mind: “To bring home from Afghanistan every U.S. citizen and legal permanent resident, the immediate and extended family members of U.S. citizens and LPRs, and our Afghan allies and partners.”
The group, which has facilitated the evacuation of approximately 1,800 people since the end of August, says they “will not rest” until they get everyone out.
The organization has a series of safe houses within Afghanistan that they use to hide vulnerable people trying to escape, but the potential evacuees need proper documentation, which is checked at multiple stages during their evacuation, and they need someone who can vouch for them, former JSOC Ground Force Commander Jesse Jensen, a member of Task Force Argo, told the Washington Examiner in an interview.
They then shepherd the individuals onto buses, where their identities are checked again, before going to an airport, before eventually flying to a friendly neighboring country.
“Through personal relationships, we negotiated safe passage and safe harbor for these folks in a host nation,” he said.
The group, which doesn’t have “more than two people in any one single location,” has “coordinated everything digitally across secure encrypted chat rooms with no real command and control structure other than a group of volunteers that have come together to rescue folks in need,” Jensen added.
The evacuees they’ve rescued include an 80-year-old grandmother and a newborn who was only 3 days old at the time she got on an aircraft out of Afghanistan.
The group of about 150 volunteers still has 4,000 people on their backfill manifest, and they’re hoping the State Department will step in and take the lead, because, as Jensen noted, their efforts are “not sustainable.”
“We look forward to the state department telling us exactly what the pipeline and the plan is for American citizens, green card holders, and SIV-approved folks in Afghanistan, because we still don't know,” he added. “We also look forward to them negotiating lily-pad countries for these folks to stay while they get screened and background checks are completed before they can come to the United States.”
Jensen also described the end of the Afghan War as an "unmitigated disaster" and said it was an "absolute failure" that is "not up for debate."
Some of the Task Force Argo volunteers are also a part of the Special Operations Association of America, a group that predates the fall of Kabul, though one that has diverted much of their attention to getting people out of Afghanistan since then.
SOAA has been quietly helping people get out of Afghanistan for months, long before the U.S. military departed and the Taliban took over, though the number of requests “started to exponentially climb” in August, according to founder and Green Beret Daniel Elkins.
He noted in an interview with the Washington Examiner that “there’s been a decent amount of negativity associated with this entire situation,” but “that’s the wrong attitude to take,” because “I’m hopefully optimistic and believe that now more than ever, we need to remain steadfast and hopeful and continue the effort over the next few weeks to ensure the safe evacuation of as many of our allies as we can.”
He also said their group consists of hundreds of people who are putting in their own resources to save Afghan allies and “that’s kind of the spirit of which we were united with Task Force Argo.”
To raise money for their effort, the volunteers at Task Force Argo and SOAA have teamed up with Nine Line Apparel, who are selling merchandise, the proceeds of which are going to the group’s efforts to get people out of Afghanistan.
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Original Author: Mike Brest