Aug 18, 2021 - World

Senate Dems vow to investigate "flawed" U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

Senator Bob Mendez speaking at an N.J. event
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez. Photo: Office of Sen. Bob Menendez

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said Tuesday he would hold hearings into the "flawed" U.S. troop withdrawal of Afghanistan.

Driving the news: Menendez, who blamed both the Biden and Trump administrations for the crisis unfolding in the Taliban-controlled country, is one of three top Democrats who head Senate committees who've vowed to investigate the Afghanistan crisis.

  • Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I) said in a statement Tuesday his panel would launch an investigation into the "failures of intelligence, diplomacy and a lack of imagination as we transitioned military forces from the country."
  • Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in a statement Monday he would ask "tough but necessary questions" about why the U.S. wasn't "better prepared for a worst-case scenario involving such a swift and total collapse of the Afghan government and security forces."

What he's saying: "The events of recent days have been the culmination of a series of mistakes made by Republican and Democratic administrations over the past 20 years," Menendez said in a statement.

  • "The wholly inadequate agreement the Trump administration made with the Taliban did not get commitments for the Taliban to break ties with Al Qaeda, nor did it account for the day after our withdrawal.
  • "In implementing this flawed plan, I am disappointed that the Biden administration clearly did not accurately assess the implications of a rapid U.S. withdrawal. We are now witnessing the horrifying results of many years of policy and intelligence failures.
"To see [the ousted government's] 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."

What's next: Menendez said the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would hold a hearing on U.S. policy towards Afghanistan — "including the Trump administration’s flawed negotiations with Taliban, and the Biden administration’s flawed execution of the U.S. withdrawal."

  • The committee plans to seek a "full accounting for these shortcomings" and assess why the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces collapsed so quickly, Menendez said.
  • The committee will also examine the path forward for Afghanistan, focused on the international response to the "looming humanitarian and human rights catastrophe under a Taliban-led regime, the senator added.

For the record: President Biden and former President Trump have blamed each other for the Afghanistan crisis.

  • A State Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement: "We have consistently worked with Congress on Afghanistan policy issues and will continue to do so."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from the State Department.

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