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WRTV Fact Check Friday: No plans to airlift Afghan refugees to Camp Atterbury

Afghanistan Stranded Families
Posted at 8:48 AM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 17:49:18-04

UPDATE: On August 31, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin authorized Camp Atterbury in Johnson County to provide temporary housing and support for people evacuated from Afghanistan.

Original story published August 27:

INDIANAPOLIS — The United States government is moving quickly to pull out of Afghanistan by the Aug. 31 deadline following the deadly explosions outside the Kabul airport.

WRTV has received a number of emails asking if any of the Afghan people will come to the Hoosier state.

Question

Will the military airlift people from Afghanistan to Camp Atterbury in Johnson County?

Afghanistan Stranded Families
FILE - In this Aug. 24, 2021, file photo, provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, families walk towards their flight during ongoing evacuations at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan. A school district in a San Diego suburb that is home to a large refugee population says many of its families who had taken summer trips to Afghanistan to see their relatives have gotten stuck there with the chaos following the withdrawal of U.S. troops. (Sgt. Samuel Ruiz/U.S. Marine Corps via AP, File)

Answer

A major airlift has already brought thousands of people to American military bases. In the initial round, four military bases are set up to house and feed up to 50,000 people from Afghanistan.

The Department of Defense says they include Fort Lee in Virginia, Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, Fort Bliss in Texas and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

Three additional bases in the U.S. were authorized to receive Afghan refugees Friday morning, but the location of those bases has not been released.

It's possible that list could grow at any moment, if necessary.

Camp Atterbury is a big military installation in Johnson County. The site in use since the 1940s has a history of training thousands of troops and handling large groups of people. Prisoners of war were sent to Indiana during World War II.

There were a number of years following World War II that the base was not used, but it has been busy as a National Guard and Army Reserve Training Center since 1969.

The Johnson County Museum of History shared these pictures with me of German and Italian soldiers who were held at Camp Atterbury during that time period.

atterbury2.PNG
Camp Atterbury hosted German and Italian prisoners of war during World War II.

The facility has evolved and over the years has responded to the needs of the day including becoming a major training site following the 9/11 attacks.

Camp Atterbury's next call to duty whether for humanitarian or military reasons is unknown for now.

Camp Atterbury issued the following statement to WRTV on Wednesday.

"The Secretary of Defense has authorized Fort Lee, Virginia; Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; Fort Bliss, Texas; and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey to provide temporary housing and support for up to 50,000 at-risk Afghans. Additionally, the Defense Department, through U.S. Northern Command, has agreed to provide to the Department of State transportation and temporary housing, sustainment, and support inside the United States for Afghan special immigrant visa applicants, their families, and other at-risk individuals at suitable facilities, in permanent or temporary structures, as quickly as possible. Support will be provided on DOD installations and through the use of assisted acquisition for the use of non-DOD land and facilities. Military departments are continuing to identify potential bases to meet potential expanded need, and we will notify you accordingly if Camp Atterbury in Indiana is approved to support the Afghan evacuee mission."

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