File-Indiana National Guard

Indiana National Guard officer Lauryan Tyler helps to box food items that will be sent to an Indiana family, Friday, April 17, 2020, in Indianapolis. The food boxes were filled with shelf-stable items designed to help supplement the pantries of families who are struggling due to COVID-19 shut-downs.

(The Center Square) – The Department of Defense Tuesday an old Army base in southern Indiana will be used to house about 5,000 Afghan refugees until permanent housing can be found for them.

Camp Atterbury, now used by the Indiana National Guard as a training base, will be home for the Afghans in just a few days.

Congressman Greg Pence, R-Indiana, brother of former vice president and former governor Mike Pence, was first to break the news, saying on Twitter on Tuesday morning the Pentagon had authorized the use of Camp Atterbury to provide “temporary housing, sustainment and support” to Afghan refugees in support of the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

“I will continue to monitor this situation closely along with members of our IN Congressional Delegation, and state & federal agencies,” he tweeted. “I will make additional details public as they become available.”

Camp Atterbury is about 40 miles south of Indianapolis, within a few miles of the small towns of Nineveh and Trafalgar.

“As Hoosiers, we are proud to do our part and provide a temporary home for Afghan evacuees who have supported this nation,” Gov. Eric J. Holcomb said in a prepared statement. “Our federal partners are taking necessary and appropriate steps to establish that there is a smooth process to allow these men, women and children to quickly find their permanent home across the United States. I have faith in the Indiana National Guard’s ability to support this federal mission.”

The Indiana National Guard said the U.S. Department of Defense had agreed to provide housing, food and support inside the United States for Afghan special immigrant visa applicants, their families and other at-risk individuals as quickly as possible and Camp Atterbury had been chosen as one of those sites.

A task force made up of members of the Indiana National Guard are working now to prepare the base to house the 5,000 Afghans.

“Task Force Atterbury, consisting of active-duty and National Guard service members supporting this federal mission, will provide housing, medical, logistics, and transportation when the Afghans arrive, which has yet to be determined,” the Indiana National Guard said in a statement.

“Our Hoosier Guardsmen are honored to join our fellow Americans to help, assist and host Afghans who played an integral part and helped us for nearly 20 years,” said Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, Indiana National Guard adjutant general. “We also look forward to working alongside our active-duty counterparts, and members of national, state, and local agencies as we support the Department of Homeland Security mission.”

A spokesman for the Indiana National Guard could not provide information on the cost to house the refugees or say whether this cost would be borne by the federal government entirely, or whether there would be some cost to Indiana taxpayers.

Calls and emails to Gov. Holcomb’s office asking these same questions were not immediately returned.