Pentagon leaders face Afghanistan’s accounts in Congress


WASHINGTON, Sept.28 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s top military leaders are expected to face some of the most controversial hearings in memory this week over the chaotic end of the war in Afghanistan, which has claimed the lives of soldiers and soldiers. American civilians and let the Taliban return to power.

The Senate and House committees overseeing the U.S. military will hold hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, where Republicans hope to focus on the mistakes the Biden administration made towards the end of the two-decade-old war.

This will follow a similar interrogation two weeks ago that saw US Secretary of State Antony Blinken firmly defend the administration, even as he faced calls for his resignation.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to praise the U.S. personnel who helped airlift 124,000 Afghans out of the country, an operation that also claimed the lives of 13 U.S. soldiers and dozens of Afghans in a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport.

Austin should “be upfront about things we could have done better,” a US official told Reuters.

It will also certainly include the last drone strike by the US military before it retreats, which the Pentagon says killed 10 civilians, mostly children – not the Islamic State militants it thought was attacking. .

“We lost lives and we took likes in this evacuation,” the official said.

Ahead of the hearing, Senator James Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote to Austin with a long list of requests for information, including on the August 26 bombing, the equipment left behind and the administration’s future counterterrorism plans.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, said lawmakers would also insist on “a lack of coordination and a real plan on how we are going to get all the Afghans who have helped us out of the country.”

“I don’t know if we will get answers. But questions will be asked again as to why we have come to the point where we have arrived in Afghanistan,” she told Reuters in a telephone interview. .

Many of the more difficult questions can be put to the two main US military commanders who testified: Army General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Marine General Frank McKenzie, Chief of Central Command. American.

McKenzie called the drone strike a “tragic mistake,” a mistake that critics say raises difficult questions about the ability of the United States to correctly identify counterterrorism targets in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal.

But McKenzie and other U.S. officials will be under pressure to defend the Biden administration’s plans to deal with future counterterrorism threats from groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State by flying in drones or commandos from the United States. foreigner.

Republicans have accused the Biden administration of downplaying the risks associated with this so-called “on the horizon” capability.

Separately, Milley could face intense questions over a narrative in a new book alleging he bypassed civilian leaders to make secret calls to his Chinese counterpart over concerns about former President Donald Trump.

Milley’s office objected to the report in the book, saying the calls he made were coordinated within the Pentagon and across the US government.

Senator Marco Rubio has called for his resignation. Senator Rand Paul said he should be sued if the book’s account is true. But some of the biggest concerns have come from House lawmakers, where Milley will testify on Wednesday.

Reporting by Phil Stewart and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Mary Milliken

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.