Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered U.S. commercial airlines to provide planes to help speed up Afghanistan evacuation efforts, the Pentagon said Sunday.
The wide-body planes would not fly into Kabul but instead would be used to transport those who have already been flown out of the country to military bases in Europe and the Middle East. That would allow military aircraft to focus on operations in and out of the Afghan capital, the Pentagon said.
The Defense Department activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, a nearly 70-year-old program created in the wake of the Berlin airlift to provide a backup by commercial air carriers for a “major national defense emergency.” It is the third time the CRAF has been activated. Previously it was used in the early 1990s and early 2000s during the Iraq wars.
The activation is for 18 aircraft: three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines; and four from United Airlines.
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