© 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 high army leaders are anticipated to face a number of the most contentious hearings in reminiscence this week over the chaotic finish to the struggle in Afghanistan, which value 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 tip of the two-decade-old struggle.
That can comply with comparable 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 predicted to reward American personnel who helped airlift 124,000 Afghans overseas, an operation that additionally value the lives of 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghans in a suicide bombing outdoors the Kabul airport.
Austin is predicted to “be frank concerning the issues we may have executed higher,” a U.S. official instructed Reuters.
That may even definitely embrace the U.S. army’s final drone strike earlier than withdrawing, which the Pentagon acknowledges killed 10 civilians, most of them youngsters – and never the Islamic State militants it thought it was attacking.
“We misplaced lives and we took likes on this evacuation,” the official mentioned.
Forward of the listening to, Senator James Inhofe, the Senate Armed Companies Committee’s high Republican, wrote to Austin with an extended listing of requests for data, together with on the Aug. 26 airport bombing, tools left behind and the administration’s future counter-terrorism plans.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, mentioned lawmakers would additionally press about “a scarcity of coordination and an actual plan for the way we had been going to get all of the Afghans who helped us overseas.”
“I do not know if we’ll get solutions. However questions shall be raised once more about why we bought 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 Basic Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Workers, and Marine Basic Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command.
McKenzie known as the drone strike a “tragic mistake,” one which critics say raises onerous questions on America’s skill to correctly determine counter-terrorism targets in Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal.
However McKenzie and different U.S. officers shall be beneath 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 may face intense questioning over an account in a brand new e book alleging he bypassed civilian leaders to put 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 had been coordinated throughout the Pentagon and throughout the U.S. authorities.
Senator Marco Rubio has known as for his resignation. Senator Rand Paul mentioned he ought to be prosecuted if the account within the e book was true. However a number of the biggest concern has come from lawmakers within the Home, the place Milley will testify on Wednesday.