OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 2:14 PM PT – Wednesday, March 8, 2023
House Republicans sent out demands to the heads of Defense and State Departments for more detailed information regarding President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.
“U.S. servicemen and women lost their lives, Americans were abandoned, taxpayer dollars are unaccounted for, the Taliban gained access to military equipment, progress for Afghan women was derailed, and the entire area is now under Taliban control,” Representative James Comer (R-Ky.) said.
Other Republicans like Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) vocalized how this decision and order was simply a “stunning failure” of leadership from Biden, which allowed the Taliban to quickly take over Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, as American troops prepared to withdraw.
On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will be commencing its first hearing before the 118th Congress, looking into the Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal that resulted in the deaths of 13 U.S. service members and 170 other civilians.
A suicide bomber detonated numerous explosives near the Hamid Karzai International Airport and shockingly thousands of U.S. citizens and allies were given no choice but to be left behind in the Taliban-controlled country.
A GOP committee aide said that this upcoming hearing will be double-edged and meant to serve as both a “scene-setter” and reminder into why the investigation is crucial, as well as a way to allow veterans the opportunity to talk about their own experiences on ground during the withdrawal.
Many service members have expressed that they feel as if our government has dismissed the trauma that this caused them and even now, eighteen months later, they wish that this chaotic removal wasn’t just swept under the rug and forgotten about.
“What happened in Afghanistan was a systematic breakdown of the federal government at every level – and a stunning failure of leadership by the Biden administration… As a result, the world watched heartbreaking scenes unfold in and around Kabul airport. I want every gold and blue star family member, and every veteran out there who watch this hearing to know: I will not rest until we determine how this happened – and hold those accountable responsible,” said Chairman McCaul.
Some of the hearing witnesses and speakers included former Specialist Aidan Gunderson who was an Army medic who witnessed the evacuation on the ground inside of the Kabul airport, Executive Chairman of volunteer organization Allied Airlift 21 Francis Q. Hoang, founder of Operation Pineapple Express Lt. Col. (Ret.) David Scott Mann, Sergeant Tyler Vargas-Andrews who was stationed at Abbey Gate and severely injured, and Peter Lucier who was the lead for allied organizations and strategic partnerships for Team America Relief.
Scott Mann and Gunderson had successfully evacuated around 1,000 Afghan allies through their operation, Task Force Pineapple. Michael McCaul proclaimed that one of the starting actions he planned to take is requesting to inspect the classified dissenting cable that the U.S. State Department employees had sent a warning about regarding a declining security situation, while also stressing the need for immediate evacuation of U.S. allies.
In August 2022, McCaul released a critical interim report highlighting the discoveries of his investigation into the withdrawal. The report accused the administration of failing to evacuate some U.S.-trained military personnel from Afghanistan which he said potentially created a major national security risk.
Democrats sent out a response memo which called out the Republicans’ critique as being a “partisan report” that is “riddled with inaccurate characterizations, cherry-picked information, and false claims.”
National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson, wrote in the memo.
“Bringing our troops home strengthened our national security by better positioning us to confront the challenges of the future and put the United States in a stronger place to lead the world,” Watson said.
“Tactical and strategic failures” are what the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability are calling into question and what will be the topics of their reasoning for ramping up investigation into the withdrawal. They plan on demanding answers from Biden’s top officials.
About 2,500 military service members and 3,800 United States contractors died over the span of the nearly 20-year-long war.