Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Testify on Afghanistan Withdrawal Debacle

Lloyd Austin
VANO SHLAMOV/AFP via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to testify next week on events surrounding the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Austin will appear Tuesday in a closed-door hearing with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations examining the conclusion of a 20-year military intervention in Afghanistan which came to an abrupt end in August 2021.

The retired four star U.S. general previously criticised President Donald Trump’s withdrawal strategy from Afghanistan when testifying to the Senate in September 2021.

Austin claimed then Trump’s peace deal was partly responsible for the problems with the withdrawal, saying it had a “demoralising effect on Afghan soldiers”, alongside corruption in the Afghanistan government.

Austin, President Joe Biden’s January 2021 appointee, did not however suggest Biden bore any major responsibility for the disastrous events that transpired outside Kabul, UPI reports.

Trump’s deal, made in early 2020, promised to withdraw all U.S. forces by May 1, 2021, providing the Taliban agreed to not harm any American troops and cut ties with terrorist organisations.

Biden was not legally bound to continue Trump’s deal, however he decided to pull out American forces at a time of increased instability in the region.

Following the U.S. retreat, the Taliban were able to seize control of the country in 11 days, entering the capital city, Kabul, on the 15th of August 2021. The Taliban were able to defeat the American- trained Afghanistan forces who either surrendered or deserted during the take over despite being better equipped and outnumbering their foes.

Biden deployed “fewer than 1,000 U.S. troops” to guard Kabul airport’s four-and-a-half mile perimeter in an effort to ensure the safe evacuation of American citizens and personnel, but these troops were instead forced to hold back thousands of refugees trying to find a flight to escape the Taliban.

A Marine with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) lifts an evacuee during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 26. U.S. service members are assisting the Department of State with an orderly drawdown of designated personnel in Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Ruiz).

A U.S. Marine with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) lifts an evacuee during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 26.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Ruiz).

Videos also emerged at the time of desperate Afghan refugees clinging onto the wheels and wings of passenger planes as they took off and tragically falling off to their deaths as the planes left the ground.

Turkish soldiers also reportedly opened fire on Afghan civilians trying to break into the U.S.-controlled airport to flee the Taliban, killing between 10-20 people before U.S. and allied troops were able to stop them.

Biden’s decision to suddenly withdraw from Afghanistan faced heavy criticism from historical ally Britain, which had the second largest amount of troops in Afghanistan.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempted to talk Biden out of withdrawing several times to no avail.

Following Biden’s withdrawal, Ben Wallace said it was a “mistake” and the “international community will probably pay the consequences.”

Some British MPs were more direct with their language and labelled the spectacle as “catastrophic” and “shameful”.

Since America’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan, reports have surfaced of a return of public executions, severe oppression of women and Sharia Law.

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