According to the sworn testimony of military commanders involved in the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, senior White House and State Department officials failed to grasp the Taliban’s steady advance on Afghanistan’s capital and resisted efforts by U.S. military leaders to prepare the evacuation of embassy personnel and Afghan allies weeks before Kabul’s fall. The result was the perilous, chaotic, and ultimately deadly withdrawal that stunned America.
This indictment is contained in a 2,000-page Army investigative report that the Washington Post obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The report also includes previously unreported disclosures about the violence American personnel experienced in Kabul.
But the key point is the Biden administration’s failure to realize how imminent a threat the Taliban posed:
Military personnel would have been “much better prepared to conduct a more orderly” evacuation, Navy Rear Adm. Peter Vasely, the top U.S. commander on the ground during the operation, told Army investigators, “if policymakers had paid attention to the indicators of what was happening on the ground.” He did not identify any administration officials by name, but said inattention to the Taliban’s determination to complete a swift and total military takeover undermined commanders’ ability to ready their forces.
Responding to questions about the report, Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, chief of U.S. Central Command, hemmed and hawed about the evacuation before finally admitting:
[There] might have been other plans that we would have preferred, but when the president makes a decision, it’s time for us to execute the president’s decision.
Even when the president is Joe Biden, who has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security matter for as long as anyone can remember.
And even when the president is relying on foolish national security advisers:
During an Aug. 6 meeting, a National Security Council official, who is not identified in the report, appeared to lack a sense of urgency and told others involved that if the United States had to execute an evacuation, it would signal “we have failed,” [Brig. Gen. Farrell] Sullivan recalled. “In my opinion, the NSC was not seriously planning for an evacuation,” he said.
It was Gen. Sullivan who oversaw the Marines who participated in the Kabul evacuation.
Readers will recall that a Taliban bomb killed 13 U.S. service members at the airport in Kabul. Last week, U.S. officials said another 45 were wounded in the blast, and that some of them are suffering from brain injuries.
The detailed report obtained by the Post finds, in effect, that these casualties could have been avoided if Team Biden had recognized the imminent threat the Taliban posed and had not resisted efforts by U.S. military leaders to prepare the evacuation.