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Afghan refugees begin arriving at Fort McCoy
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Afghan refugees begin arriving at Fort McCoy

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The first Afghan refugees have arrived at Fort McCoy, one three military installations in the United States approved by the Department of Defense for temporary housing.

Sunday afternoon, special immigrant visa applicants, their families and other individuals at risk arrived, according to a press release from the base.

This is in addition to a small number of Afghans currently finalizing their processing at Fort Lee, Va.

Fort McCoy officials expect these arrivals to continue throughout Sunday and the coming days. U.S. Northern Command is working to build additional capacity at the Wisconsin base, as well as at Fort Lee, Fort Bliss in Texas and potentially other military locations as required.

Approximately 1,000 service members from multiple units of the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve have begun to assemble at Fort McCoy to provide support to Operation Allies Refuge.

U.S. Northern Command is the Department of Defense's lead combatant command for this mission in the continental United States and is providing oversight in support of the Department of State. U.S. Army North, as U.S. Northern Command's Joint Force Land Component Command, is the lead operational command for this mission.

The task force at Fort McCoy will provide the housing, medical, logistics, and transportation support.

"The Fort McCoy community is proud to join U.S. Army North, U.S. Northern Command and the Department of Defense team in supporting the State Department with this mission. We look forward to the opportunity to treat our temporary guests with the utmost respect and Wisconsin hospitality  as they commence their Special Immigrant Visa process," the statement from Fort McCoy said.

Brig. General Chris Norrie is the task force commander.

The base has some experience in housing refugees: Fort McCoy was home to Cuban refugees from the Mariel boatlift for five months in 1980.

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