NEWS | Aug. 26, 2021

Fort Pickett to support Operation Allies Refuge

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Fort Pickett, Virginia, will support the State Department in providing temporary housing and sustainment for Afghan Special Immigration Visa applicants, their families and other at-risk individuals, according to a formal announcement made Aug. 25, 2021, by the Department of Defense.

Here is the full text of the DOD announcement:
“The Defense Department continues to support the State Department in providing temporary housing, sustainment, and support inside the United States for up to 50,000 Afghan Special Immigration Visa applicants, their families and other at-risk individuals. Today, the Department authorized Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia and Fort Pickett, Virginia, to provide support to this important State Department mission. The US Northern Command will coordinate details with the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Health and Human Services, as necessary. This support will be provided under Presidential Drawdown Authority to the maximum extent possible, with additional support being provided on a reimbursable basis.”

The site supporting the vulnerable Afghans will be managed by active duty military forces, and they are currently building their team at Fort Pickett, explained Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, in an email to the Virginia National Guard.

“The safety and security of the Afghan refugees and all personnel involved with the operation and working at Fort Pickett will be a top priority,” he wrote.

Williams explained DOD has confirmed that all personnel arriving from Afghanistan complete a full medical screening as well as biometric vetting and security screening in accordance with the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center and Customs and Border Control standards, all directed by the Department of Homeland Security.

“I am incredibly proud of the tremendous work by the Virginia Army National Guard staff, our state employees in the Virginia Department of Military Affairs, the Facilities Management Office and the team at Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett in coordinating with our partners at U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Army North, Army Materiel Command and Army Sustainment Command to make the facilities at Fort Pickett available for the mission,” Williams wrote.

Fort Pickett Maneuver Training Center near Blackstone has more than 225 full-time state and federal employees who provide support to tenant and training units on approximately 41,000 acres. The installation features a combination of open and wooded terrain maneuver areas and 21 ranges capable of supporting almost any weapons system in the U. S. Army inventory with barracks to support more than 5,000 personnel as well as an Army airfield operation.
 
U.S. Northern Command is the Department of Defense's lead combatant command for this mission in the continental United States and is providing oversight in support of the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security. U.S. Army North, as U.S. Northern Command's Joint Force Land Component Command, is the lead operational command for this mission.