US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved 1,000 more US troops into Afghanistan, a defense official tells CNN, for a total of 6,000 US troops that will be in the country soon.
The additional troops come from the group of 82nd Airborne that were headed to Kuwait, and they are being sent in as a result of the deteriorating security situation, the official said.
Their primary mission is the security of Kabul’s international airport, which is the entry point for the troops and the exit point for the US embassy staff and Afghans who are leaving the country.
“We are not assuming that every inch of the airport is secure,” said the official, noting reports of Afghan civilians rushing to the airport.
As of right now, there are approximately 3,000 US troops in Afghanistan. The remaining troops are en route or will be in the imminent future.
There have been security incidents at or near the airport, the official said, but US forces have not been targeted, nor have they fired on anyone. Turkish forces remain at the field and are also taking part in the efforts to secure the field. The official could not say whether Turkish forces had been engaged in exchanges of fire.
The US military is overseeing air traffic control at the field, which is still being run by Afghan air traffic controllers. Civilian and military flights continue, the defense official said, though there have been delays and temporary stoppages in civilian flights.
The US military will have the maximum capacity to move about 5,000 people per day out of Kabul international airport, though they are not able to move that number yet, the official said. They will reach that capacity “within days.”
The US has made its plans clear to the Taliban in Doha and that any attempt to fire on US forces will be met with a strong response, the official added.