USTRANSCOM supports State Department in bringing stranded Americans home
By U.S. Transportation Command Public Affairs , U.S Transportation Command
/ Published March 27, 2020
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
U.S. Transportation Command was directed today by the Secretary of Defense to assist the Department of State Repatriation Task Force in the contracting of aircraft to return Americans and lawful permanent residents stranded abroad due to travel restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.
The State Department will continue to prioritize requests for travel assistance, direct departure and arrival locations, and conduct medical screening. USTRANSCOM will contract aircraft on behalf of the State Department and utilize the command’s existing transportation command and control system to efficiently manage the flow of aircraft.
The State Department requested assistance from the Department of Defense when the scale of the effort to repatriate Americans and lawful permanent residents strained the agency’s capacity.
The combatant command is uniquely positioned to assist in the contract of commercial aircraft as it oversees the commercial carriers participating in the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, which transport thousands of Department of Defense personnel on a regular basis.
USTRANSCOM has been supporting the Department of Defense’s ongoing effort to fight COVID-19, moving personnel and equipment in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and American citizens and lawful permanent residents out of South America as space became available on existing military flights. As a last resort, U.S. military aircraft may be used to repatriate Americans and lawful permanent residents from locations unreachable by commercial contracted aircraft due to COVID-19 access restrictions.
USTRANSCOM expects to continue providing assistance to the State Department for several weeks. The State Department will also continue to contract aircraft in addition to this effort, and offer travelers advice and assistance with commercially ticketed flight options where still available. Americans overseas who feel in need of travel assistance should sign up at the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program website.