The Democratic leaders of three Senate committees said this week that they will investigate the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, HuffPost reports.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez said in a statement on Monday that his panel will hold hearings on Afghanistan, “including the Trump administration’s flawed negotiations with Taliban, and the Biden administration’s flawed execution of the U.S. withdrawal.”
“The Committee will seek a full accounting for these shortcomings as well as assess why the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces collapsed so quickly,” he said. “Congress was told repeatedly that the Afghan Defense and Security Forces were up to the task, that it had the troops, equipment and willingness to fight. To see this army dissolve so quickly after billions of dollars in U.S. support is astounding. The American and Afghan people clearly have not been told the truth about the ANDSF’s capacity and deserve answers.”
The Taliban took control of most of the country’s major cities and ultimately the capital of Kabul in recent weeks, often without a fight from Afghan forces. President Joe Biden acknowledged that the Taliban advanced quicker than intelligence suggested but stood by his decision to follow through on Trump’s deal with the Taliban to withdraw from the country.
“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” he said.
Intel committee to probe failure:
Many officials have blamed the rapid advance of the Taliban on intelligence failures. Reports last week suggested that intelligence agencies believed the US may have had months to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies from the region even as some officials warned of a fast takeover.
Senate Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner vowed to investigate why the country was not better prepared for what happened.
“Intelligence officials have anticipated for years that in the absence of the U.S. military the Taliban would continue to make gains in Afghanistan,” he said. “That is exactly what has happened as the Afghan National Security Forces proved unable or unwilling to defend against Taliban advances in Kabul and across the country. As the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I hope to work with the other committees of jurisdiction to ask tough but necessary questions about why we weren’t better prepared for a worst-case scenario involving such a swift and total collapse of the Afghan government and security forces. We owe those answers to the American people and to all those who served and sacrificed so much.”
Armed Services panel looks at big picture:
Senate Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed said that his committee would look at the many factors that shaped the outcome of the war after two decades, including the Bush administration’s decision to pivot to Iraq, the country’s failure to “have an effective policy to deal with a duplicitous Pakistan, a failure of mission creep from counter-terrorism; and a lack of ability to build an effective Afghan government and security forces.”
Reed vowed to hold hearings on the failures and said that “these failures were compounded by the failures of the Doha agreement by President Trump which won the United States very little, and failures of intelligence, diplomacy and a lack of imagination as we transitioned military forces from the country. This is not a Democratic or a Republican problem. These failures have been manifesting over four presidential administrations of both political parties.”