FORT LEE, Va. – Task Force Eagle at Fort Lee is supporting the mission of relocating up to 3,500 Afghan special immigrant applicants in support of the Department of State, and as directed by the Department of Defense.
Col. Karin L. Watson, Fort Lee’s garrison commander, said the installation received notification of its role in support of Operation Allies Refuge on July 15. The operation supports relocations of interested and eligible Afghan nationals and families who have supported the U.S. government and who are close to finishing the process of applying for special immigrant visas, according to the Department of State.
The task force is charged with providing temporary housing, medical care, food, religious support, and other living needs to Afghan special immigrant applicants.
The first group of approximately 200 Afghans arrived at Fort Lee July 30. They are finishing the remaining steps on their path to becoming permanent U.S. residents, joining 70,000 others since 2008.
“Fort Lee remains eager and committed to doing all it can to support the U.S. government’s efforts to help those who have helped us for many years,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Simerly, commanding general, Combined Arms Support Command, and Fort Lee.
“We were able to accelerate the planning and preparation for this mission thanks to the responsiveness of the entire military enterprise,” said Simerly. “We are thankful for their support and are proud to support this valuable mission.”
Watson acknowledged the “all-hands effort” of her staff and installation tenant agencies. She said the installation has received tremendous support from the privatized Army lodging facility, Logistic Readiness Center - Lee, Mission and Installation Contracting Command, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, and others.
“While most of these individuals will only be at Fort Lee for a short time, we want that experience to be welcoming and respectful,” said Watson. The base has taken into consideration their religious and cultural needs, for example the provision of halal food permitted by Islam.”
The commanders further emphasized that Operation Allies Refuge will not interrupt the installation’s primary training mission. Fort Lee is the home of the U.S. Army Ordnance, Quartermaster and Transportation schools, and the Army Logistics University.
“Our commanders and staff are working hard to ensure there is minimal disruption to the people who live and work on Fort Lee, and they’re closely coordinating our actions with the surrounding communities,” Simerly said. He also noted that those within the community have expressed strong support for the mission.