Pentagon leaders to face Congress on Afghan pullout decision

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In their first public testimony since the US completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, top Pentagon leaders will face sharp questions in Congress about the chaotic withdrawal and the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country.

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Republicans in particular have intensified their attacks on President Joe Biden’s decision to pull all troops out of Afghanistan by August 30, saying it has made the US more vulnerable to terrorism. They are demanding more information about the suicide bombing in Kabul that killed 13 US service members in the final days of their return.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday and again on Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee. General Frank McKenzie, who oversaw the withdrawal as Chief of Central Command, will also testify.

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The Senate committee’s ranking Republican, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, has presented the Pentagon with a long list of questions about several aspects of the withdrawal, including the August 26 suicide bombing at Kabul’s international airport, in which the US service In addition, 169 Afghans were killed. The member is also seeking information on decision-making over the summer as it became clear the Taliban was taking a toll on US-backed Afghan forces.

“We need a full account of every factor and decision that has led us to this day and a realistic plan to keep America from moving forward,” Inhofe wrote last week.

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The withdrawal ended the longest war in American 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, as his administration signed a deal with the Taliban in 2020, in which A full American withdrawal was promised by May. 2021. He also pointed to the failure of the US to build an Afghan army that could take on the Taliban.

“This is not a Democratic or Republican problem. These failures are manifesting in the four presidential administrations of both political parties,” said Sen. Jack Reed, DR.I, a day after Kabul was captured by the Taliban on August 15 .

Although Tuesday’s hearing was set to focus on Afghanistan, other topics will likely take place, including Milley’s actions during the final months of Trump’s presidency.

Some in Congress have accused Millie of infidelity for the book “Peril” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, which was reported as an assurance to a Chinese general that the US had no plans to attack China. , and if that happens, Miley will warn him. in advance. In the days following news accounts reporting the book, Milley declined to comment in detail, instead telling reporters that he would give his answers directly to Congress. His only comment has been that the calls with the Chinese were routine and within his job duties and responsibilities.

Both Milley and Austin have defended the execution by US forces of the withdrawal of Afghanistan that Biden ordered in April. By early July the pullout was largely complete, but several hundred soldiers were stationed in Kabul, along with some defensive equipment, to protect the American diplomatic presence in the capital. The State Department initially said that diplomats would remain until August 31 after the troop withdrawal was completed, but when Afghan forces collapsed and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, leaving the Taliban, a frantic evacuation ensued.

The Pentagon has defended the execution of an airlift carrying more than 120,000 people from Kabul airport, while acknowledging that it got off to a chaotic start and was under almost constant threat of a terrorist attack.

“The avalanche of incompetence of the Biden administration has damaged our international reputation and humiliated the United States on the world stage,” Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Representative Marienette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, both Republicans, told the Des Moines Register. written. “Nevertheless, our President and Foreign Minister continue to pretend that the withdrawal from Afghanistan was a historic success.”

Cotton and others have questioned the viability of U.S. plans for al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate using intelligence-gathering assets and attack planes based outside Afghanistan.

Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Taliban

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