The Department of Defense (DOD) is preparing American military bases to house thousands of Afghan refugees.

The DOD is preparing to rescue up to 30,000 Afghans with special immigrant visas, or SIVs, and house them in military bases in the U.S. such as Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and Fort Bliss in Texas, according to Fox News.

“We want to have the capacity to get up to several thousand immediately, and want to be prepared for the potential of tens of thousands,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. “Bliss and McCoy have the capability right now – and what’s advantageous is with a little bit of work, they could increase their capacity in very short order.”

“Once we get more airlift out of Kabul, we’re going to put as many people on those planes as we can. There will be a mix, not just American citizens, but perhaps some Afghan SIV applicants as well,” he continued. “We’re going to focus on getting people out of the country, then sorting it out at the next stop. It’s not going to be just Americans first, then SIV applicants. We’re going to focus on getting as many folks out as we can.”

The United States has taken control of air traffic control at Kabul’s Karzai International Airport as it evacuates U.S. embassy personnel from Afghanistan. The U.S. abandoned its embassy on Sunday as the Taliban took control of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city, and the Afghan government.

The situation at Karzai has grown increasingly chaotic as reports surface of gunfire around the airport. Hundreds of Afghans have broken through airport security in desperate attempts to board planes leaving the country. Videos surfacing on social media show Afghans attempting to cling to the outside of U.S. planes to hitch a ride out of the country.

American citizens have reportedly been trapped outside of the airport and behind Taliban checkpoints, unable to reach U.S. officials. 

Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AK) office told New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman that his office is receiving calls from United States citizens trapped behind Taliban checkpoints, even as the U.S. State Department is demanding the Taliban allow foreign nationals to leave the country.

Cotton’s office opened its phone lines to citizens in Kabul who need help, according to a tweet the Senator sent out earlier Sunday, asking anyone in need to make contact. Haberman tweeted Sunday night that Cotton’s office received calls from “multiple U.S. citizens” requiring help.

“If you’re an American stranded in Afghanistan, or know one who is, please contact my office immediately:  (501) 223-9081 or  evac@cotton.senate.gov  The situation is dire, but we’ll do everything in our power to help keep you informed and to help get you out,” Cotton’s office said Sunday.

“Cotton spokesman says that their office has heard from multiple US citizens in Kabul trapped behind Taliban checkpoints, who can’t safely reach the US perimeter and have no clear option for what to do,” Haberman noted.

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