The last group of Afghan nationals temporarily housed at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin as part of Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) departed the base Tuesday. Fort McCoy is the seventh of eight U.S.-based Department of Defense (DOD) installations supporting the resettlement of Afghan nationals, also known as “safe havens,” to complete OAW-related operations. To date, more than 74,400 Afghan evacuees have joined new communities across the country. These resettlement efforts are led by the Department of State in close coordination with more than 290 local resettlement affiliates.
“I would like to thank the federal staff, servicemembers, volunteers, and members of the local community whose dedication was critical to the success of our mission at Fort McCoy,” said Robert J. Fenton, Jr., Senior Response Official for Operation Allies Welcome. “With the help of our partners across government and non-profit organizations, the 12,600 Afghan evacuees who were temporarily housed at Fort McCoy have now joined their new communities, and we have completed operations at seven of the eight safe haven locations.”
DOD continues to provide temporary housing facilities for the remaining approximately 1,200 vulnerable Afghans who are in the process of completing their resettlement while at the remaining military installation, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. While on an installation, Afghan evacuees have access to a range of services, including medical care and resettlement services, and they can apply for work authorization.
“Task Force McCoy is the seventh of eight task forces to conclude its temporary support of Operation Allies Welcome,” said Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command. “I am incredibly proud of the important work our service members along with their interagency partners at Task Force McCoy have done over the last five months, enabling the resettlement of more than 12,600 Afghan personnel into their new communities across the country.”
As of February 15, the United States has welcomed more than 76,000 Afghans to the United States through Operation Allies Welcome, providing them with support and assistance as they begin their new lives in America – and we are prepared to continue welcoming additional qualifying Afghans over the coming weeks and months. Prior to entering the United States, Afghan evacuees must successfully complete a rigorous, multi-layered screening and vetting process that includes biometric and biographic screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals from the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and State; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the National Counterterrorism Center; and other Intelligence Community partners. Afghan evacuees also receive critical vaccinations – which include measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), varicella, polio, and COVID-19 – as a condition of their humanitarian parole. All OAW arrivals are tested for COVID-19.
Those who are interested in supporting the resettlement of vulnerable Afghans can go to www.welcome.us to learn more about how to get involved. Welcome.US is a national non-profit initiative to welcome and support Afghan nationals as they rebuild their lives in communities across America. Groups of individuals and community organizations can also apply to form a sponsor circle to directly support arriving Afghan evacuees. For more information on the Sponsor Circle Program and to learn how to apply to form a sponsor circle, visit www.sponsorcircles.org.
Operation Allies Welcome is the coordinated effort across the federal government to support and resettle vulnerable Afghans, including those who worked on behalf of the United States. For more information, visit www.dhs.gov/allieswelcome.