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Author: TriSec    Date: 07/20/2021 10:21:17

Good Morning.

Let's head right to Afghanistan this morning, shall we?

Our exit has been a strange contradiction. It was reported in this space earlier about our chaotic departure from the Bagram Airbase. It's one thing to abandon equipment, but what about personnel?

It seems that some calmer heads may have prevailed. Several thousand of our Afghan allies may be headed to some stateside bases while the wait for visas. It's a far better future than remaining in Afghanistan and waiting for the Taliban to catch up with them.

The Pentagon is planning to house about 2,500 Afghans who served in interpreter or other jobs for the United States, and their family members, at stateside locations after they are evacuated from Afghanistan.

The first Afghans who arrive in the United States will go to Fort Lee, Virginia, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said at a news briefing Monday, but others could go to other military installations that have yet to be identified.

Kirby said that the military recommended Fort Lee as the first location after the State Department formally asked for stateside locations where evacuated Afghans could wait while they go through the final steps of the Special Immigrant Visa, or SIV, process. Those steps include medical screenings and other administrative requirements, he said.

"We're going to give these people a safe place to stay for a few days while they finish the processing ... before they can then be resettled elsewhere in the United States," Kirby said. "It goes back to our responsibility that we feel, to take care of these people who have taken care of us. So obviously, we want to make them as comfortable as possible."

The Afghans will receive housing, food and water, and medical care including COVID-19 screenings, he said. They likely will stay at Fort Lee only a few days, and the fort will not build any additional housing, Kirby said.

Of the 2,500 evacuees coming to the United States under Operation Allies Refuge, 700 are SIV applicants who have already completed the security vetting process, and the remainder are their family members, he added.

The White House said last week it plans to begin evacuating some Afghans by the end of July. As the military continues its withdrawal process from Afghanistan, which is largely completed but expected to be formally concluded by the end of August, pressure has mounted on the administration to evacuate some 18,000 Afghans and their families who served as interpreters and in other jobs.

Those Afghans now face potential reprisal from the Taliban, who have a history of kidnapping and brutally murdering those who worked with the U.S. military.

We'll next leap much closer to home; 90 miles from Key West, as a matter of fact. Perhaps some of the more vocal Cubans in your neighborhood have staged some protests in your neck of the woods. We had one here at the State House (Boston) this past Sunday...but as there was no media coverage it was little more than flags and noise.

In any case - President Biden is one again trying to reverse the damages done by a previous administration.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday ordered the State Department to create a working group to review U.S. remittance policy to ensure that money that Cuban Americans send home makes it directly into the hands of their families without the regime taking a cut.

He also ordered a review of the viability of increasing staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. The White House is hopeful that a boost in staffing could help it better facilitate civil society engagement following one of the communist island's biggest antigovernment demonstrations in recent memory.

The actions were detailed by a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Biden administration hadn’t yet publicly announced the effort.

It comes a little more than a week after thousands of Cubans took to the streets of Havana and other cities across the island to protest food shortages and high prices during the coronavirus crisis. It's a level of frustration not seen in Cuba in more than 60 years.

Biden is also calling for the administration to work with Congress to identify options to make the internet more accessible on the island. The regime moved to quickly cut off internet access to stop images of the protests from being broadcast to the world. Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, have been urging Biden to make free satellite internet access available to dissidents to help them subvert the Cuban government’s effort to stop activists from getting their messages on social media.

The administration will also look to work with international organizations to increase humanitarian assistance, while the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control will explore sanctioning Cuban officials who committed human rights violations against peaceful protesters in Cuba, the official said.

As you all know, Mrs. TriSec's family is from the island; a town on the south shore called Cienfuegos. We had small hopes during a prior Presidency that we might one day be able to visit. Since dashed, of course - but maybe that small hope might return.

And since we're ALL veterans of Covid now, what about our actual veterans? Amazingly enough, getting vaccinated is still not a military mandate. However - they have made it easier for troops wanting the vaccine to get it. This is just silly; when you're in uniform, Uncle Sam tells you what to do, and you do it, or suffer the consequences.

Active-duty service members now can get COVID-19 vaccines anywhere they are available without needing pre-authorizations, according to an update published Monday to the manual that dictates military health services.

Under normal circumstances, U.S. troops receive medical care from military hospitals and clinics unless referred to the private sector by their military providers.

A change to the Tricare manual waives the requirement that they get a referral and allows troops stationed in the U.S. or territories to get their coronavirus vaccines from any provider. The change does not apply to troops stationed overseas.

The move comes as the Defense Department tries to raise its vaccination rates. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday that 70% of active-duty troops have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

That rate is slightly higher than it was a week earlier, at 68.8%, but lower than the Pentagon's goal to have all service members vaccinated by mid-July.

The Pentagon has said it will not require troops to get the vaccines as long as they are under emergency-use authorizations. But officials said they are considering making them mandatory once the immunizations receive full FDA approval.


15 comments (Latest Comment: 07/20/2021 19:07:48 by Raine)
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