Senate Armed Services to hold 1st hearing on Afghanistan withdrawal

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Senate Armed Services to hold 1st hearing on Afghanistan withdrawal

The Senate Armed Services Committee announced its first public hearing on the Biden Administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, with top officials slated to testify before the panel on Sept. 28. 

The hearing comes as the administration has faced a slew of bipartisan criticisms over the exit, with members on both sides of the aisle raising concerns over national security, the safety of Americans and Afghan allies left behind and the humanitarian implications that have resulted in the wake of the swift Taliban takeover.

Questions have been raised over why the Biden administration did not heed warnings from the intelligence community that the Afghan government was at high risk of falling to the Taliban without the support of U.S. troops and why they opted to leave the Bagram Airfield before all Americans were evacuated. 

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) said it’s the duty of Congress to ensure accountability.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Frank McKenzie have been called to testify before the panel. 

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is slated to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the exit next week. 

“Although we have completed the withdrawal of American military personnel and over 100,000 civilians from Afghanistan, I remain deeply concerned about the events that accompanied our withdrawal and the ongoing humanitarian crisis,” Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said in a statement issued Thursday.

“It is the duty of Congress — and the Senate Armed Services Committee in particular—to hold hearings to learn lessons from the situation in Afghanistan and ensure accountability at the highest levels.”

US Army Gen. Scott Miller, the former top US commander in Afghanistan has been called to testify.
US Army Gen. Scott Miller, the former top US commander in Afghanistan, will brief the panel before the hearing.
Alex Brandon/Getty Images

Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) praised Reed’s decision to hold a hearing providing oversight on the crisis, and called for those responsible to be held accountable. 

“I’m grateful to Chairman Reed for prioritizing these critical oversight hearings on Afghanistan — the first of what I will expect to be many hearings and briefings to review and determine what happened, who should be held accountable, and how we move forward,” he said in a statement.

“The American people, our service members past and present, our allies and partners around the world and the Afghans who bravely helped us deserve this transparency and accountability.”

Ahead of the hearing members of the panel are expected to receive a closed-door briefing from Gen. Scott Miller, who previously served as the commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. 

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