U.S. builds capacity to move people out as noted here. Recurrent press theme: "Why did it take so long?"
Part of the answer:
Responding to criticism that the Pentagon has been slow to organize the evacuation of up to 25,000 Americans compared with the evacuation of Europeans by their governments, Whitman said the emphasis has been on security. American citizens are tempting terrorist targets, and the operation -- which got underway Sunday when the State Department requested the insertion of an 18-man planning team -- takes into account safety "first and foremost," he said.Another part is that logistics, especially involving ships, takes time. I'll bet that not all of the Americans being evacuated in arrived in Lebanon on the same day. And the U.S. doesn't keep empty ships bobbing about waiting for refugees...
"The goal here is a safe, orderly organized disciplined evacuation of American citizens," he said.
DoD photo of USS Nashville (LPD-13) by Chief Petty Officer Dave Fitz, U.S. Navy.
UPDATE: Australia has had some trouble getting its people out:
All Australians will share their relief and hope that the thousands trapped in Lebanon can soon be rescued. Until now, the rescue mission by the Australian Government had been chaotic. A ship that was supposed to be chartered by Australia had been "double-booked". This sequence of events, however, cannot be blamed entirely on the Government. It was after all, as Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said, a war zone. But surely, given that acknowledgement, more could have been done earlier.It's my understanding that the Canadians outbid the Aussies for the "double-booked" ship. A relatively clear statement of the situation is set out here:
The Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says the failure so far to get a chartered ship in shows just how hard it is.
ALEXANDER DOWNER: And it's complicated by a number of factors. First of all, the whole issue of chartering ships is reasonably chaotic, secondly even when you charter a ship it's very hard the ship into the port. And that's partly because the security situation sometimes is bad and the Israelis recommend against using the port at certain times. And secondly the port's facilities have their limitations.
LOUISE YAXLEY: But he's not giving assurances that any of the ships Australia is trying to charter will steam into port.
ALEXANDER DOWNER: We have chartered, we have contracts to charter ships to arrive in Beirut on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and if all of those ships are able to get into Beirut, and that a very big qualification - if they are - we will have enough capacity to take out around 6,000 people. And that will probably be more than we need, but we're not sure that we will get these ships into Beirut.
LOUISE YAXLEY: Mr Downer says he understands the frustrations, but says all nations are facing the same problems.
ALEXANDER DOWNER: Some nationals have got out, but the same controversy, I'm afraid, has erupted in every country. It's just very, very difficult to get people out. I mean, some people have got out, some haven't.
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