The trio will answer questions from upset Democrats and Republicans over what they say was a botched pullout that saw the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan and the disintegration of the government and military, in which the United States has contributed billions of dollars for arms and training. Both sides also criticized the Biden administration for a hasty exit that left Americans and Afghans who teamed up with US forces.
Lawmakers are also demanding details of the discarded weapons and equipment that fell into the hands of the Taliban, as well as plans for how the United States will continue to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan partners and hold the terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS-K remotely.
ISIS-K was responsible for a suicide bombing at a gate outside Hamid Karzai International Airport that killed 13 US servicemen and up to 200 civilians. The Pentagon had information indicating that an attack was imminent in the hours leading up to the bombing.
Members of the House and Senate also want an explanation as to why the United States left Bagram Air Base before the withdrawal was completed, a move they say severely hampered the evacuation of Afghans and of Americans at risk in the country.
This is all part of a long list of questions about the withdrawal and the subsequent security situation to which the Senate and the House armed services want a public answer.
Republicans largely blamed Biden for the mess, saying he ignored advice from his military commanders. In remarks prepared ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, senior Senate military official Jim Inhofe (Okla.) Criticized Biden and argued that the withdrawal and its consequences “increased the threat of terrorism.”
“President Biden and his advisers didn’t listen to his combat commander. He didn’t listen to Congress. And he didn’t anticipate what we all knew was happening,” Inhofe plans to say.
“The administration must be honest: because of President Biden’s disastrous decision, the terrorist threat to American families is increasing dramatically, while our ability to deal with these threats has been decimated,” he continued.
Looking for answers on Afghanistan: The Senate Armed Services hearing, which will also include a closed-door questioning, is the first public broadcast of the Afghanistan debacle with senior officials. Senators heard from the former commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, during a classified briefing on September 15.
Several Republicans in the Armed Services are pushing for an extended public hearing with Austin and Milley, with five senators writing last week to Armed Services President Jack Reed (DR.I.) asking senators for more time for questions .
In their letter, Les Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Kevin Cramer (ND), Rick Scott (Fla.), Tom Cotton (Ark.) And Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) Urged Reed to have more time for public questions “for s’ ensuring the American people get the answers they deserve. “
“The American people want to know how the administration – including the Defense Ministry – failed to prepare for the collapse of Afghan forces and got caught off guard by the final Taliban advance.” , they wrote. “They want to know when, why and by whom were made the decisions that left thirteen Americans dead, hundreds of Americans stranded behind enemy lines and tens of thousands of refugees arriving in our country without proper control. And they want to these responsible to face the consequences of his actions.
The hearings come as ties between top Pentagon officials and some Republicans are unraveling. Although most GOP lawmakers blamed Biden, several Tory members called for Austin and Milley’s resignation for the missteps in Afghanistan.
Hawley, for example, threatened to slow down all Pentagon and State Department candidates until Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan resigned.
Fury at Milley’s call: Republicans, meanwhile, will almost certainly want Milley to answer revelations in a new book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa that the four-star general was so concerned about Trump’s instability at the end of the year. his mandate that he contacted his Chinese counterpart. , General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, to reassure him that the United States would not suddenly attack.
Reports of the calls – just days after the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising by a pro-Trump mob – sparked a firestorm, with some Republicans, including Senate Intelligence Republican Marco Rubio (Fla.), arguing that Milley overstepped and should be fired for undermining civilian leaders.
Milley has since defended his actions, saying the calls were “routine” and “perfectly within the scope of the duties and responsibilities” of his job as the country’s top military officer.
But the four-star army general also appeared to anticipate lawmakers would press him over the exchange.
“I’ll get into the details that Congress wants to discuss in a few weeks,” Milley told reporters traveling with him this month.
Calls to oust Milley are rejected by the White House. Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in a September 15 briefing that Biden had “complete confidence” in Milley, who was selected for the top post by Trump and has two more left. years in office.
Tense exchanges on the “awakening”: The hearings are Austin and Milley’s first public appearances on Capitol Hill since the couple battled with Tory House Armed Services Committee over the Pentagon’s efforts to promote diversity and combat racism and extremism .
Milley and Austin faced several difficult exchanges during a hearing with lawmakers who argued that the Pentagon had embraced the teaching of critical race theory and opposed a withdrawal from all of the military, where units took a day off their normal duties this year to discuss extremism in the military. Milley’s particularly forceful rebuttal during the June 23 House hearing angered Tories and could be repeated this week.