INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. Representative Greg Pence announced that he has received confirmation from the United States Department of Defense to authorized the use of Camp Atterbury for temporary housing and support for Afghanistan evacuees.
The Secretary of Defense confirmed shortly later that Indiana’s Camp Atterbury had indeed been selected as a temporary housing site in support of Operation Allies Refuge.
Camp Atterbury, located about 40 miles south of Indianapolis, joins Fort Pickett, Marine Corps Base Quantico and Fort Lee in Va.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort McCoy, Wis.; Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in N.J. in providing temporary housing and support for up to 50,000 Afghans.
“As Hoosiers, we are proud to do our part and provide a temporary home for Afghan evacuees who have supported this nation,” Governor Eric Holcomb said. “Our federal partners are taking necessary and appropriate steps to establish that there is a smooth process to allow these men, women and children to quickly find their permanent home across the United States. I have faith in the Indiana National Guard’s ability to support this federal mission.”
Pence stated that over the coming week the capacity of Camp Atterbury will be built to support approximately 5,000 people. Camp Atterbury is expected to reach initial operational capability in the next few days.
The Indiana National Guard said Task Force Atterbury, which will consist of active-duty and National Guard service members, will provide housing, medical, logistics and transportation when the Afghans arrive.
The evacuees’ arrival date has not yet been determined. Officials with the Biden Administration stated, however, that evacuees would likely be arriving at Camp Atterbury within days, not weeks.
The evacuees have been vetted and tested for COVID-19, according to the Biden Administration officials.
“Our Hoosier Guardsmen are honored to join our fellow Americans to help, assist and host Afghans who played an integral part and helped us for nearly 20 years,” said Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, Indiana National Guard adjutant general. “We also look forward to working alongside our active-duty counterparts, and members of national, state and local agencies as we support the Department of Homeland Security mission.”
In the week prior to the official announcement, Governor Holcomb had stated his support and willingness to lend Camp Atterbury in assistance to Afghan refugees.
“Indiana is a willing partner to help Afghan refugees who have put their lives on the line in support of the United States for the past 20 years. We owe this to them and there’s no better way to help than to offer aid to those who aided and protected us.
As of now, I have not received outreach from the federal government about its intentions for Camp Atterbury. There is information we want to know, such as how many refugees will be sent, what their immigration status is, what extra security measures will the DoD provide, what are expectations of state and local resources to assist with the operation. I trust the federal government will address these questions and others we have before any operation commences.”Governor Eric Holcomb
Senator Mike Braun weighed in on the matter by issuing the following statement.
“As around 5,000 evacuated Afghans will be temporarily housed at Indiana’s Camp Atterbury while they are vetted for resettlement across the country, it is extremely important that all local units of government and first responders know who they are, how many, and what part of the vetting process they’re in so Hoosiers do not suffer the fallout of President Biden’s disastrous withdrawal. I have communicated to the relevant federal departments that vetting details and any plans for resettlement must be transparent and public so we can honor our commitments to our Afghan allies while keeping Hoosier communities safe.”Senator Mike Braun