Tens of thousands of Afghans have completed or are in the process of completing initial security checks at one of several bases in Spain, Italy and Germany, the head of U.S. European Command, and so far, only one person has failed to get a green light to head on to the U.S.
Fifty-eight evacuees have required secondary screening, Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters told reporters on Thursday. He would say only that the one detained is not considered a “high threat.”
“That individual is currently in the appropriate custody with U.S. interagency officials ... and we are still working his background investigation,” Wolters said.
Evacuees in Europe are subject to multiple security screenings upon arrival, including through biometric and biographical databases. Officials on the ground, including those from Customs and Border Protection, are working at a pace of about 250 people per hour, Wolters said.
Host countries have given EUCOM 10 days to process them, Wolters added, so the overall process continues once they are flown stateside, to bases in Virginia, Texas, New Jersey, New Mexico or Wisconsin.
“And once they get to the United States, I believe they go through a similar process...” Wolters said, in addition to a more thorough health screening, which includes COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 vaccination ― which is mandatory for any evacuee entering the U.S. on a “parole” status, which allows them to stay in the country without a specific visa completed or permanent residency status.
Another 16,000 are going through a similar process in Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed.
Though the Defense Department confirmed Wednesday that more than 124,000 people had been evacuated from the Kabul airport, either by U.S. military transport or by flights facilitated by partner countries, it’s unclear the status of each of the individuals who were able to leave.
While the administration has said 6,000 of those evacuated were Americans, there have been no precise numbers provided discerning which Afghans were special immigrant visa holders or applicants, or whether another status deemed them vulnerable and eligible for resettlement.
Of the 38,000 who are or have passed through Europe, Wolters said, 792 were American citizens, while 996 were legal permanent residents.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.