ICYMI: Fmr. U.S. Military Leaders Testify On Afghanistan

March 22, 2024

I’ll be candid, I don’t know the exact number of Americans that were left behind because the starting number was never clear.

Retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday.

Context: In the nearly four-hour hearing, two now-retired top United States generals who were responsible for overseeing the 2021 evacuation from Afghanistan testified on the U.S. withdrawal which concluded 20 years of war. In August 2021, the U.S. quickly worked to evacuate an estimated 120,000+ Americans, embassy personnel and at-risk Afghans following the Taliban’s advance to Kabul, the capital city. On Aug. 26, 13 U.S. service members and more than 160 Afghans were killed in a suicide bombing attack at the airport where the evacuation operation was centered.

Why It Matters: Milley said the U.S. State Department’s decision to evacuate from Afghanistan “was too slow and too late.” Both Milley and U.S. Central Command retired Gen. Frank McKenzie’s testimony stands in contrast with a White House internal review on the operation, which said President Joe Biden was “severely constrained” by prior withdrawal agreements made by former Pres. Donald Trump.

Big Picture: Since the U.S. withdrawal, the Taliban have been in control of Afghanistan, “resulting in many dramatic changes for the population, including the near-total loss of rights for women and girls” (The Associated Press).

Read More: Top former US generals say failures of Biden administration in planning drove chaotic fall of Kabul (The Associated Press)

An Assessment of the Biden Administration’s Withdrawal from Afghanistan by America’s Generals (U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee)

by Leah Grainery, based in Texas