House Foreign Affairs Committee Continues Investigation into Afghanistan Withdrawal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than two years ago US troops pulled out of Afghanistan. The withdrawal ended one of our longest wars. The withdrawal drew sharp criticism of President Biden from both sides as the world watched crowds desperately trying to escape and the Taliban quickly taking back control of the country. House Republicans continue to press in their investigation into this withdrawal; trying to better understand why it became chaotic so quickly and lessons to learn for the future.  

“We owe them answers,” said Retired Gen. Mark Milley, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Milley was referring to giving answers to the 13 Gold Star families that lost a loved one during the attack at Abbey Gate during the withdrawal.  

The House Foreign Affairs committee heard from former Commander of US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie and Milley. Both McKenzie and Milley have testified previously on this on Afghanistan withdrawal but this time around, lawmakers hope to get a more candid response from him on our chaotic withdrawal in August of 2021.  

“The intelligence community and his senior military advisers including both gentlemen testifying here today issued dire warnings about the withdrawal’s consequences,” said Chairman Michael McCaul (R- TX).  

Republicans have sharply criticized Biden on the withdrawal. They’ve called it a major disaster. The Biden administration has been defensive about their decision to pull troops. In the hearing, Democrats blamed former President Donald Trump of poor planning and emboldened the rise of the Taliban.  

“The Trump Administration lacked a comprehensive plan from withdrawing from Afghanistan despite the may first deadline that was fast approaching,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks (D- NY).  

Last year Milley called the withdrawal a “strategic failure” and said he has had lots of regrets about how the US operations in the country ended. In the hearing, he also said our presence in Afghanistan helped protect Americans from other attacks from terrorists. 

“We could not forge a nation,” said Milley. “The enemy occupied Kabul, over throwed the government and the military we supported faded away. It was a strategic failure. But the military also provided hope. For 20 years we provided unprecedented opportunities for millions and in the final days we gave 135,000 people their lives and freedom at very high cost.” 

Both Milley and McKenzie said most of their testimony will reflect previous testimony given. A couple of the Gold Star families that lost their loved ones during the Abbey Gate attack- where 13 US service members died from an attack during the withdrawal, were at the hearing.