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Non-combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO)

Noncombatant evacuation operations (NEOs) are conducted to assist the USA Department of State in evacuating noncombatants, nonessential military personnel, selected host-nation citizens, and third country nationals whose lives are in danger from locations in a host foreign nation to an appropriate safe haven. They usually involve a swift insertion of a force, temporary occupation of an objective (e.g., a USA Embassy), and a planned withdrawal after mission completion. NEOs are usually planned and operated by a JTF and conducted under an Ambassador's authority. Force sizes can range into the hundreds with all branches of armed services involved, while the evacuees can number into the thousands. At least ten NEOs were conducted during the 1990s (e.g., Eastern Exit (1991, Mogadishu, 300 evacuees), Assured Response (1997, Monrovia, 2400 evacuees)).

Overseas evacuations occur under a variety of circumstances - civil unrest, military uprisings, environmental concerns, natural disasters. Dependent on the situation, the Department of State (DoS) may approve an authorized (voluntary) or ordered (mandatory) departure of federal employees (military and civilian) and their families. In the authorized/ordered departure approval, DoS will designate a particular country, normally the continental United States (CONUS) (the 48 contiguous states and D.C.), as the safe haven for federal employees and their eligible family members for thirty days as they assess the situation. The authorized/ordered departure may be extended in 30 day increments to a maximum of 180 days. Department of Defense (DoD) may have only a few or many noncombatants located in the endangered country.

The departure of private American citizens (AMCITS) is at their own discretion; however, many will normally take advantage of the protection and transportation provided by the United States Government (USG). DoS may also approve the evacuation of selected host nation and third country nationals (TCN's). When CONUS is declared the safe haven, federal families will be repatriated back into the United States. AMCITS and designated aliens will be brought to safety, and are responsible for reimbursing DoS for transportation costs incurred on their behalf.

Under the direction of the President and in consultation with the Secretaries of Defense (SECDEF) and Health and Human Services (HHS), the Secretary of State (SECSTATE) is responsible for the protection or evacuation of all U.S. citizens abroad, including DoD noncombatants. This authority does not extend to military personnel of the Armed Forces, including Defense Attache Systems and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) personnel assigned to the Embassy, unless otherwise agreed.

Although the evacuation of pets with families is not authorized by Federal Regulations, past experience has shown that evacuees will bring pets with them. Therefore, repatriation centers and intermediate processing/staging areas must be prepared to take care of pets. Families are financially responsible for moving their pets to and from the theater.

At the onset of a crisis situation in an overseas country, Department of State (DoS) will hold senior level interagency meetings with DoD and other Federal Agencies to discuss the potential evacuation. If it appears that DoD will assist in the evacuation, the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) will authorize and direct the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) to issue an appropriate warning order to the supported Combatant Commander. The Secretary of State's formal request, when approved by the President, will generate the Execute Order directing NEO. If CONUS has been declared the safe haven, the magnitude of the operation and composition of evacuees (DoD, AMCITs, host nation personnel, TCNs, etc.) will determine DoD's involvement in the repatriation operation.

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