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U.S. plans mass evacuation from S. Asia

India soldiers
India and Pakistan have deployed a million troops along their border  

From CNN's Mike Mount at the Pentagon and Elise Labott at the State Department

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Evacuation plans for thousands of U.S. citizens in Pakistan and India are being evaluated by U.S. military officials and officials with the U.S. embassies there, in preparation for possible conflict between those two countries, a Pentagon official and a State Department official said Thursday.

State Department officials, a White House official and a military source said the United States routinely has such plans on behalf of Americans living outside the country, and that the planning gets a renewed look when tensions rise somewhere.

Officials with the United States Central Command are working with the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, while officials from the U.S. Pacific Command are working with the U.S. Embassy in India evaluating evacuation plans that would involve the removal of U.S. citizens through commercial aircraft and chartered aircraft and boats.

CNN's Suhasini Haidar says a Pentagon study finds as many as 12 million people could be killed in a Pakistan-India nuclear conflict.

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The number of official U.S. non-military personnel in Pakistan numbers somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000. For India, there are around 60,000 Americans considered official U.S. personnel.

The Pentagon official says the total number in India could go as high as 80,000, which would include U.S. business personnel and tourists.

Officials say they multiply by three any "working" evacuation number, to plan ahead for other citizens, family members and non-governmental organizations that request to be taken out of the area.

"The U.S. military has done large-scale evacuations before and knows what to expect," the Pentagon official said.

U.S. military officials say that there are no plans to remove U.S. troops in Pakistan, or military personnel training in India, which number around 200.

The use of military equipment to evacuate U.S. citizens would be a last resort if there are no options for commercial or charter evacuation.

"This is by no means a military-run operation; the State Department makes the call whether to evacuate personnel or not, the military option is available should the situation spiral downward," an official told CNN Thursday.

State Department officials say they are carefully evaluating what measures need to be done in the coming days to protect or evacuate Americans, should the India-Pakistan crisis erupt into a full-blown war.

"It is our duty to ensure and assist with the safety of Americans traveling or living in those countries and certainly we are going to do that," one State Department official said.

The U.S. embassy in Pakistan in March ordered the departure of all non-emergency personnel and their dependents, following the bombing of a church in Islamabad that killed two Americans.

State Department officials point out there is a travel warning for Pakistan, where threats against American interests have increased, and for India. The advisory urges Americans in both countries to consider leaving.




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