augusta free press news

Senators call for increased coordination, support for Operation Allies Welcome

warner kaineU.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine are pressing Biden administration officials for increased communication and coordination with Virginia localities and institutions supporting Operation Allies Welcome, which seeks to resettle vulnerable Afghans, including those who worked on behalf of the United States.

Sens. Warner and Kaine are calling for clearer and more direct lines of communication between the federal government and Virginia localities and entities assisting OAW, to ensure that the operation is running with the safety and the efficiency that it requires.

“We are encouraged by efforts that officials have taken to coordinate at the local level, including Secretary Mayorkas’ call with local officials, outreach from military leaders to the communities around their installations, and the establishment of local coordinating officials on military bases. These efforts facilitate communication and help address concerns that local communities may have, and most critically, help align state and local resources to complement and support the federal government’s efforts,” wrote the senators.

“We continue to believe, however, that the federal government – specifically the departments and agencies that are coordinating and running OAW on the ground – must do more to develop clear and explicit lines of communication, acknowledge the concerns and questions of local communities, and coordinate the operation so that states and localities can effectively support and backstop the operation with minimal disruption,” they continued.

The senators, who have heard concerns related to capacity and resources from localities that are supporting the operation, also pose a number of questions for DHS in its role overseeing OAW. These questions touch on the availability of medical resources and personnel, as well as on COVID-19 vaccine administration policies and procedures.