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US begins Civil Reserve Air Fleet missions

Companies activated by the Pentagon for the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) began missions on 23 August to augment US support in the evacuation of citizens and other at-risk individuals from Afghanistan.

The Pentagon on 22 August activated Stage I of the CRAF, which covers 18 aircraft: three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, and Omni Air; two aircraft from Hawaiian Airlines; and four aircraft from United Airlines. These aircraft will not fly into Kabul, instead they will be used for the onward movement of passengers from temporary safe havens and interim staging bases, according to a Pentagon statement.

US Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) spokesman Andre Kok said on 24 August that the command began talking with industry partners about the potential need to activate the CRAF on 16 August. The companies selected were those that had committed aircraft for Stage I, which is for minor regional crises and humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief efforts. Stage II would be used for major theatre war, and Stage III for periods of national mobilisation. All aircraft committed under Stage I were called up, Kok said.

The CRAF is a co-operative and voluntary programme involving the Department of Transportation, the Pentagon, and the US civil air carrier industry in a partnership to augment US Department of Defense (DoD) aircraft capacity during a national defence-related crisis. Kok said carriers volunteer their aircraft to the CRAF programme through contractual agreements with TRANSCOM.

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