House GOP Foreign Affairs Committee Interim Report”A Strategic Failure:”Assessing the Administration’s Afghanistan Withdrawal

One year ago, the world was watching in horror as Afghanistan was overrun by terrorists, as thousands of American citizens and hundreds of thousands of our Afghan allies desperately tried to get to the airport and onto a plane to safety. We now know that more than 1,000 American citizens were left behind to fend for themselves, and tens of thousands of our Afghan allies were abandoned to be hunted by the Taliban.

Yesterday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Minority has published an interim report on President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and the resulting chaotic and deadly evacuation. This is the first step in a thorough investigation into why the decision to unconditionally withdraw was made in defiance of the conditions on the ground, why the Biden administration failed to properly plan for the results of that withdrawal, and what short-term and long-term impacts these events will cause.

Top Takeaways from the HFAC Republican Investigation:

The Doha agreement didn’t force President Biden to withdraw from Afghanistan – he chose to do that in spite of advice from his top military advisors, the intelligence community, and America’s allies.

  • The Doha agreement was conditions-based, and those conditions were not being met according to Pres. Biden’s own advisers. In addition, President Biden has admitted he “would’ve tried to figure out how to withdraw those troops” from the country even if the Doha agreement didn’t exist.
  • Generals Milley, McKenzie, and Miller all advised the president to leave a small force of about 2,500 military personnel in the country that would be joined by 6,000 NATO troops.

The Biden administration absolutely did NOT “plan for all contingencies,” as they repeatedly claimed.

  • At the height of the evacuation, only 36 State Department consular officers were on site, or about one for every 3,400 evacuees.
  • Brigadier General John Sullivan, Joint Task Force-Crisis Response Commander in Kabul said, “NSC was not seriously planning for an evacuation…The embassy didn’t fully participate in NEO planning until a week prior to the fall.”
  • Around the same time General Miller warned, “the Taliban are on the move” and “what we are seeing is the rapid loss of district centers,” the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ross Wilson, took 2-week vacation the last week of June and first week of July 2021.

Before, during, and after the military evacuation, senior officials in the Biden administration – including the president himself – misled the American people. In some instances, they made these statements knowing they were not accurate. 

  • Officials said the Taliban were cooperating and “business-like” during the evacuation when in fact they were beating, shooting and detaining would be evacuees – information that was both being reported in the news and was included in internal State Department memos.
  • President Biden said it was “highly unlikely” the Taliban would take power, despite the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence community warning repeatedly this is exactly what would happen.

The fallout from the withdrawal and evacuation has made America less safe, emboldening our adversaries and angering our allies.

  • The Biden administration repeatedly claimed only “about a hundred” American citizens were abandoned in Afghanistan after the U.S. military evacuation ended on August 31, 2021. However, the report reveals meaning more than 1,000 Americans were abandoned in a country controlled by a terrorist organization.
  • After the evacuation, desperate to find safety from the Taliban, a “significant” number of Afghan security forces, including high ranking officers and commandos, crossed the border into Iran. Some brought military equipment and vehicles with them. While some were returned to Afghanistan, according to the UN, others likely remained.
  • The Department of Defense, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the chief of MI-6 all agree the withdrawal is good for America’s adversaries, specifically Iran, China, and Russia.

The Biden administration has refused to comply with any requests for documents. It’s imperative Congress fulfill its Article I duties and conduct proper oversight of the decision to withdraw and the fallout that caused.

  • The Committee Minority believes the State Department needs to provide the long overdue requested documentation, which includes memos, letters, and notes touching on the decision to withdraw, the preparations made for the fallout from the withdrawal, and the military evacuation. In addition, they should make available the 38 requested officials for transcribed interviews.
  • The House Foreign Affairs Committee should hold multiple, open and closed hearings focused on the withdrawal from Afghanistan with top Biden administration officials including Secretary Blinken, NSA Sullivan, and others.
  • For top takeaways from the interim report, click here.