Troops Deployed to Afghanistan to Support Evacuations Receive Boost From the USO

By Sandi Gohn

The military trains for everything.

From high-stress combat to natural disaster response, U.S. service members are taught to anticipate the unexpected so they can handle difficult or sensitive missions – like the current situation in Afghanistan – with expertise.

U.S. Service Members Deploy to Afghanistan to Assist in Evacuations

On Aug. 16, the Taliban took control of the Southwest Asian nation, prompting an expedited evacuation of U.S., allied and Afghan partners from the country.

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, directs operations with U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Farrell J. Sullivan, the commander of the Naval Amphibious Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade on August 17, 2021. | Photo credit U.S. Navy/Capt. William Urban

To support this large-scale departure via Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, President Joe Biden has authorized roughly 6,000 U.S. troops to deploy to Afghanistan to assist in the evacuation.

The U.S. military is rapidly deploying service members to Afghanistan and many USO locations are working around the clock to support them as they head into the country. The USO’s global network of centers is uniquely positioned to respond swiftly when service members are deployed with little to no notice, and can provide comforts like care packages, hygiene items, hot meals and entertainment to those headed into harm’s way.

As of Aug. 17, Department of Defense (DOD) officials said there were 4,000 U.S. service members on the ground in Kabul, with more likely on the way. Currently, the U.S. military has worked with Turkish and Afghan forces to secure the airport and has reopened it to military and limited commercial flights.

As thousands of people flee the nation – the DOD says it aims to have the capacity to fly roughly 5,000 to 9,000 people out of Afghanistan every day. While this extremely challenging operation is ongoing, U.S. service members will be on the ground, ensuring their safety.

As They Rapidly Deploy, Service Members Receive USO Support

When U.S. service members first deployed to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago, the USO was ready to support them as they headed into harm’s way, thanks to generous donors who support our nonprofit mission. Now – two decades later and amidst rapidly evolving circumstances on the ground – the USO’s dedication to U.S. Armed Forces deploying to Afghanistan remains the same.

Photo credit U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Dennis Hoffman

U.S. airmen deploy to Afghanistan from Travis Air Force Base, California on Aug. 14, 2021.

Currently, the USO is mobilizing to support troops as they deploy to Afghanistan by providing personal care items, access to internet and support to temporary housing units. Staff is also busy prepping USO2GO kits filled with snacks, toiletries and other necessities. USO locations along the deployment route are stocking up with beverages, snacks and other refreshments to fuel service members along their journey to Afghanistan.

All of this important work is possible thanks to the generous and continued support of dedicated donors – without them, the USO simply wouldn’t be able to provide this rapid support to thousands of deploying troops.

It’s uncertain how this rapidly changing situation will continue to impact our service members and military bases in the coming days, but the USO will be there to support them every step of the way. In times of crisis and uncertainty, our USO locations are a source of comfort and a place where service members can find vital resources and connection to home.

When their mission is complete, the USO will be there too – ready to welcome them home.

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As the COVID-19 outbreak is evolving, the USO has pivoted resources across the entire global enterprise in an approach that helps care for military members and their families.

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