alert Tax Payment Notice:
All Real Estate tax, Personal Property tax, and Stormwater Utility fees are now due June 24, 2022
Penalty and Interest of Zero Percent (0%) for all payments received on or before August 31, 2022.
close alert

Army says Afghan capacity at Fort Lee, other military posts combined could total 50,000

Army says Afghan capacity at Fort Lee, other military posts combined could total 50,000

Right now, there are 15,000 evacuees at all the military posts with an expected 7,000 more by week's end. DoD did not provide a per-base breakdown of that capacity.

Bill Atkinson
The Progress-Index
Poeple evacuated from Kabul, Afghanistan, walk through the terminal before boarding a bus after they arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport, in Chantilly, Va., on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021.

The Defense Department said Wednesday that approximately 15,000 Afghan nationals evacuated from their homeland as part of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan are being temporarily housed at Fort Lee and three other military bases, and by week's end, that capacity could reach 22,000. By the time the withdrawal ends later this month, that number could increase to 50,000, DoD said.

To make room for the ramping up of emigrating the Afghans here, Defense has authorized Marine Corps Base Quantico in northern Virginia and Fort Pickett, an Army post-turned-Virginia National Guard base near Blackstone, as additional receiving centers.

The other processing centers are at Fort Bliss in Texas, Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

Fort Pickett is located about 30 miles west of Petersburg and Fort Lee.

Quantico and Fort Pickett are expected to begin receiving the Afghan nationals — many of whom served as translators for U.S. operations over the past two decades — immediately.

In an email to The Progress-Index, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army Northern Command said as many as 50,000 Afghans are expected to come through the gates of the military bases before the withdrawal from Afghanistan is completed.

"Support will be provided on DoD installations and through the use of assisted acquisition for the use of non-DoD land and facilities," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson did not break down that capacity by military posts, but Gov. Ralph Northam was quoted in media reports Tuesday as saying more than 6,000 have come through Virginia. A senior administration official would not confirm that number in a press briefing this week with Virginia reporters.

In this photo from July 30, 2021, buses transporting Afghan special immigrant applicants arrive from Dulles International Airport and reach the Holiday Inn Express hotel in support of Operation Allies Refuge, at Fort Lee.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Virginia, said Wednesday her office was working with Biden administration and Defense officials on how the Afghans will be assisted at Fort Pickett. In a statement, she praised the Virginia National Guard for opening up its base to help.

"During this rapidly changing situation, I remain profoundly grateful to the men and women of the Virginia National Guard," Spanberger said. "Over the past year and a half, these servicemembers have been called to respond to a variety of tense, dangerous, and unprecedented situations — from boosting Virginia’s efforts against COVID-19 to securing the U.S. Capitol. They have never wavered in answering the call, and they continue to tirelessly serve their fellow Americans and our allies during this evacuation operation."

Spansberger's congressional district includes Fort Pickett

Added Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in his own statement: "I’m immensely proud Virginia is leading the way in supporting U.S. personnel, Afghan partners, and other at-risk Afghans during this critical time. We must continue to do all we can to help get Americans and our allies out of harm’s way."

Northam told The Associated Press he and his wife have visited the Fort Lee processing center at the on-post Holiday Inn Express. The governor said the Afghan nations were being provided "adequate culturally sensitive accommodations," including access to medical care, recreation and worship. Fort Lee has been closed to the press since the first evacuees began arriving July 30.

“As you might imagine, logistically, it’s a major challenge. But they’re handling it well,” Northam said of Fort Lee.

The United States is expected to complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan by Aug. 31.

Veteran journalist Bill Atkinson (he/him/his) is the regional daily news coach for the USA TODAY Network Southeast Region's Unified Central group, which includes Virginia, West Virginia and portions of North Carolina. He is based at The Progress-Index in Petersburg, Virginia. Contact Bill at, and follow him on Twitter at @BAtkinson_PI.