The 21st Theater Sustainment Command has been conducting Operation Allies Refuge to facilitate Afghanistan evacuees from Aug. 20, 2021 to present across numerous sites throughout Europe.
Since the first Soldiers touched their feet on Afghan soil in 2001, the country has had an American presence until the U.S. officially left the country August 31, 2021. During the 20-year presence the U.S. had in-country, U.S. forces have utilized the services of Afghans, sometimes with great risk to themselves.
“As we look back as a nation on two decades of combat and struggle in Afghanistan, I hope that we will do so with as much thoughtfulness and humility as we can muster. And I know that we will wish for a brighter future for the Afghan people—for all their sons, and for all their daughters,” said the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III in a statement on the end of the American war in Afghanistan.
With the pullout underway, the 21st TSC went to work alongside the Air Force, Red Cross, USAID, and the Department of State. Areas were established across Europe to facilitate the temporary lodging and onward movement of Afghanistan evacuees with the 21st TSC contributing key logistics and personnel support. In total so far the 21st TSC has helped thousands of evacuees as they finished the final steps to start their new lives.
Here in Germany, one such site was established at Ramstein Air Base, where the 21st Special Troops Battalion, 21st TSC provided assistance establishing and then managing one of the living areas, where the 21st STB has facilitated the movement of more than 2800 Afghan evacuees.
“We bring them [Afghan evacuees] here and we house them. We provide all logistical support so we are giving them cots, we are giving them sleeping bags, we are giving them clothes, we are giving them shoes, we are giving them water, and providing showers. So, the whole gamut,” said 1st Sgt. Jacinta Moore, assigned as the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 21st STB first sergeant who was on-site to assist in its management.
“We are all one big team,” said Spc. Dylan Juergens, a Soldier who was stationed at the site and assigned to 493rd Petroleum Support Company, 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, 21st TSC. “It is nice to see that and the travelers had their own helpers who worked with us very well, which also made a big impact with translations and everything that needed to be done.”
Another site was established at Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Germany where they have processed more than 6000 evacuees. The 16th SB took charge of the site that was formerly a Soldier Deployment Processing Center that previously served a similar function for U.S. Soldiers forward-deployed, headed back home or to their forward location. In total, the site expanded and reached the ability to house more than 6100 travelers.
“There’s also a certain level of apprehension or fear when things are unknown,” said Capt. Alex Lovely, the officer in charge of the site and assigned to the 16th SB, in a recent interview with Stars and Stripes. “So we’ve worked very hard to make sure everyone who comes through here has as much information about our processes and about what’s next, to ease their transition out of a tough situation.
The 18th Military Police Brigade, 21st TSC also participated by providing security at sites throughout Europe to include Germany and Kosovo. 30th Medical Brigade, 21st TSC also assisted by providing medical care and grief counseling for the evacuees as they continued onward movement to their final destination.
With no more U.S. boots on the ground and the historic operation of airlifting more than 100,000 Afghan evacuees out of the country, the effort continues throughout the command to assist the evacuees as they finish the necessary steps to get to their final destination.