Biden administration infighting: officials point fingers over Afghanistan botch
Top Pentagon officials pointed fingers at the State Department for not starting civilian evacuations from Afghanistan sooner while referring to the withdrawal as “chaotic” during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.
The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan concluded on Aug. 31. Though over 124,000 individuals made it out of Kabul, at least 100 US citizens and thousands of Afghan allies remain in the country.
The House Armed Services Committee pressed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on why evacuations didn’t begin sooner, and he said it was a “State Department call.”
“We certainly would have liked to see it go faster or sooner,” Austin said. “But, again, they had a number of things to think through as well.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley later described the evacuation efforts as “chaotic.” Milley emphasized that the “noncombatant evacuation” was not handled by his department.
“That’s a different operation,” Milley said. “And I think, that, in the first two days as we saw, were not only chaotic, but violent and high-risk.”
Milley referred to the 20-year war as a “strategic failure” for the US and warned that the Taliban still poses a threat.
“The Taliban was and remain a terrorist organization and they still have not broken ties with al Qaeda,” Milley testified. “I have no illusions who we are dealing with.”