Washington, Sept. 28 (BNA): In their first public testimony since the United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, top Pentagon leaders will face sharp questions in Congress about the chaotic withdrawal and the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country.
Republicans in particular intensified their attacks on President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by August 30, saying it made the United States more vulnerable to terrorism. They are demanding more details about the suicide bombing in Kabul that killed 13 US soldiers in the final days of the withdrawal, according to the Associated Press.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are scheduled to testify Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee and then on Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee. General Frank McKenzie will also testify as the head of Central Command, which oversaw the withdrawal.
The leading Republican candidate for the Senate committee, James Inhoff of Oklahoma, threw the Pentagon a long list of questions about multiple aspects of the withdrawal, including the August 26 suicide bombing at Kabul International Airport that killed 169 Afghans as well as US service. Individuals. He also demands information about the decision-making process over the summer as it became clear that the Taliban were overcoming US-backed Afghan forces.
“We need a full account of every factor, a decision that led us to where we are today, and a real plan to defend America going forward,” Inhofe wrote last week.
The withdrawal ended the longest war in US history. The Biden administration, and some Democrats in Congress, have argued that former President Donald Trump bears some of the blame for the war that ended in a Taliban victory, since his administration signed a deal with the Taliban in 2020 that promised a full US withdrawal by May. 2021. They also point to the years-long failure of the United States to build an Afghan army that can stand up to the Taliban.
This is not a Democratic or Republican problem. “These failures have surfaced throughout four presidential administrations of both political parties,” Senator Jack Reed, Dr. Aye, said the day after the Taliban took over Kabul on August 15.
Although Tuesday’s session was scheduled to focus on Afghanistan, other topics will likely arise, including Milley’s actions during the final months of Trump’s presidency.
Some in Congress accused Milley of disloyalty to Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s “Danger” as assurances to a Chinese general that the United States had no plan to attack China, and that if it did, Millie would warn him in advance. In the days following news reports for the book’s report, Milley declined to comment in detail, instead telling reporters that he would provide his answers directly to Congress. His only comments were that calls with the Chinese were routine and within the duties and responsibilities of his job.
Milley and Austin both defended the US military’s implementation of the withdrawal from Afghanistan ordered by Biden in April. The withdrawal was largely completed by early July, but several hundred troops were kept in Kabul, along with some defensive equipment, to protect the American diplomatic presence in the capital. The State Department initially said the diplomats would remain after the military withdrawal was completed by August 31, but when Afghan forces collapsed and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, leaving the Taliban in charge, a frantic evacuation began.
The Pentagon has defended its implementation of an airlift from Kabul airport that has transported more than 120,000 people, while acknowledging that it started in chaos and was under the near-constant threat of a terrorist attack.
“The collapse of the Biden administration’s incompetence has damaged our international reputation and humiliated the United States on the world stage,” Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Representative Marianette Miller Mix of Iowa, both Republicans, wrote in the Des Moines Register. Nevertheless, our President and Secretary of State continue to pretend that the withdrawal from Afghanistan was a historic success.
Cotton and others have questioned the feasibility of US plans to contain al-Qaeda and the ISIS affiliate group in Afghanistan using intelligence-gathering assets and attack aircraft stationed outside Afghanistan.