Pentagon leaders to face Afghanistan reckoning in Congress By Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Marines honor their fallen service members killed in motion throughout a ramp ceremony at Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 27, 2021. Image taken August 27, 2021. U.S. Central Command/Handout through REUTERS
By Phil Stewart and Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s prime army leaders are anticipated to face among the most contentious hearings in reminiscence this week over the chaotic finish to the conflict in Afghanistan, which price the lives of U.S. troops and civilians and left the Taliban again in energy.
The Senate and Home committees overseeing the U.S. army will maintain hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, the place Republicans are hoping to zero in on errors that Biden’s administration made towards the top of the two-decade-old conflict.
That may observe related questioning two weeks in the past that noticed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken staunchly defending the administration, at the same time as he confronted requires his resignation.
U.S. Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin is anticipated to reward American personnel who helped airlift 124,000 Afghans in a foreign country, an operation that additionally price the lives of 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghans in a suicide bombing outdoors the Kabul airport.
Austin is anticipated to “be frank concerning the issues we might have completed higher,” a U.S. official instructed Reuters.
That will even actually embrace the U.S. army’s final drone strike earlier than withdrawing, which the Pentagon acknowledges killed 10 civilians, most of them kids – and never the Islamic State militants it thought it was attacking.
“We misplaced lives and we took likes on this evacuation,” the official stated.
Forward of the listening to, Senator James Inhofe, the Senate Armed Providers Committee’s prime Republican, wrote to Austin with a protracted checklist of requests for info, together with on the Aug. 26 airport bombing, tools left behind and the administration’s future counter-terrorism plans.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, stated lawmakers would additionally press about “a scarcity of coordination and an actual plan for a way we have been going to get all of the Afghans who helped us in a foreign country.”
“I do not know if we’ll get solutions. However questions might be raised once more about why we obtained to the purpose that we did in Afghanistan,” she instructed Reuters in a phone interview.
Lots of the hardest questions could fall to the 2 senior U.S. army commanders testifying: Military Common Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees, and Marine Common Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command.
McKenzie referred to as the drone strike a “tragic mistake,” one which critics say raises arduous questions on America’s potential to correctly establish counter-terrorism targets in Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal.
However McKenzie and different U.S. officers might be below strain to defend the Biden administration’s plans to handle future counter-terrorism threats from teams like al Qaeda and Islamic State by flying in drones or commandos from abroad.
Republicans have accused the Biden administration of downplaying the dangers related to that so-called “over the horizon” functionality.
Individually, Milley might face intense questioning over an account in a brand new e-book alleging he bypassed civilian leaders to position secret calls to his Chinese language counterpart over issues about former President Donald Trump.
Milley’s workplace pushed again in opposition to the report within the e-book, saying the calls he made have been coordinated throughout the Pentagon and throughout the U.S. authorities.
Senator Marco Rubio has referred to as for his resignation. Senator Rand Paul stated he needs to be prosecuted if the account within the e-book was true. However among the best concern has come from lawmakers within the Home, the place Milley will testify on Wednesday.