Troops in Qatar operate on steam as bases continue to receive Afghan evacuees
U.S. service members at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar are starting to feel the pressure of their extraordinary efforts in the massive evacuation of Afghanistan, prompting comrades elsewhere in U.S. Central Command to help with the airlifts.
Social media posts gave an overview of the operation’s toll on the military, civilian personnel and contractors handling the thousands of people arriving in Qatar.
“I do this from 12 to 4 (hours), no days off since the shit hit the fan,” wrote a Facebook user on a page for residents of Al Udeid. “Now I love helping people and I wouldn’t know what to do if I was in (their) shoes, but I just want real rest… because I stop slowly. … I’m tired okay.
The United States evacuated more than 10,000 people in a 24-hour period earlier this week, the military said on Monday. The cargo planes were loaded with 400 to 450 passengers at a time.
A resident of the base had worked 22 hours a day for three consecutive days, he told Stars and Stripes on Monday via text. This includes 10 hours of volunteering per day.
Some soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division who were deployed on short notice from Fort Polk, La. Over the weekend were put directly to work after arriving at 4 a.m., said the resident, who has asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
There aren’t enough translators and the ice to keep the water cool was dwindling as evacuees came in to temperatures of 120 degrees, he said.
“We (go) through a lot of water bottles,” he said.
A post Monday night on the popular “Air Force amn / nco / snco” Facebook group cited a submission from someone who said it took 30 hours to bring a group of more than 450 evacuees onto a flight. The plane circled for two hours before landing due to the density of the base.
“Giving these people a new chance to live (that) was worth it,” the person wrote. “The guys at (Al Udeid) are still overwhelmed right now.”
Military chaplains were “at the heart of the action to make sure our Airmen can continue to support,” Base Victory Chapel said in an article featuring a photo of cases of sports drinks and energy drinks that were delivered throughout the base.
Meanwhile, troops elsewhere in CENTCOM were setting up temporary housing or deploying to help with the effort, photos, videos and social media posts, official and unofficial, were shown.
U.S. facilities in Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates will house the evacuees, officials said.
“Our mission remains focused on ensuring a constant flow of evacuees out of Kabul to intermediate bases and refuges at our facilities, (continuing) to rapidly build the necessary capacities to ensure reception and provide humanitarian aid” , said the army’s major general. Hank Taylor told reporters Monday at the Pentagon.
Afghans who have supported US government missions were staying at the Qatari camp of As Sayliyah at the end of last week while awaiting special immigrant visas. CENTCOM boss Marine General Frank McKenzie visited the facilities last week, photos showed.
Evacuees also arrived at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait.
A social media user in Qatar offered a perspective to Americans who feel overwhelmed.
“If anyone needs any motivation or encouragement… how about going out and looking at all the kids who are still smiling and have no idea where (they) are going or what is going on” , he wrote. “They admire us because we are the only ones helping them. “
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