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The Biden administration has completed long-awaited reports on the Afghan withdrawal

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon and the State Department have completed separate post-deployment reviews of US troop withdrawals in Afghanistan and are forwarding those reports to the relevant congressional committees, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Thursday.

The long-awaited reports are classified, but are believed to detail failures of US intelligence and planning that allowed the Taliban to do so quickly. Occupy Afghanistan in August 2021. The reports outline key security failures near Kabul airport that are believed to have led to the deaths of 13 US servicemen and Afghans in an attack.

The Pentagon’s classified after-action review was conducted by the National Defense University and sent to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last year. Austin told CBS News in December that the Pentagon has no plans to release an unclassified version.

Details of the final months of the withdrawal were included in the Pentagon’s previous investigation into a bombing outside Kabul airport that killed 13 US service members and more than 100 Afghans in the chaotic final days of the withdrawal. Details in that report The administration’s lack of coordination on the withdrawal burdened young servicemen to “play God” in deciding how to leave Afghanistan’s capital.

The National Security Council released its own, incomplete summary Thursday sharing its view on the recall, but the document did not identify or dig into specific failures. Kirby said the NSC’s “document and this effort today is not about accountability — it’s about understanding.” Kirby said the president has been “thoroughly briefed” on both the Pentagon and State reports and has “input” on the NSC paper.

“Obviously, we’re not getting anything here with how quickly the Taliban is moving across the country with Afghanistan,” Kirby said.


US soldiers stand guard behind barbed wire as Afghans sit on the roadside near the military section of Kabul’s airport on August 20, 2021.

Representative Kohser/AFP via Getty Images

The review’s summary emphasized that the Biden administration entered office after the Trump administration had already negotiated a deal with the Taliban that pledged to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by May 2021. The summary also blamed the Trump administration for several US troops. The orders of then President Donald Trump put the Taliban in a strong position.

The NSC summary was released by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCall, before the Pentagon received the classified report, according to McCall’s office. On Thursday afternoon, McCall was in Taiwan as part of a congressional delegation.

In a statement later Thursday, McCaul said Kirby’s comments at the White House briefing were “disrespectful and insulting,” adding that “President Biden chose to withdraw and even chose the right date; he is responsible for a massive failure in planning and execution.” called for the release of the report and said that lawmakers should “give access to the full and complete record of documents from the recall to get answers to why the recall was such a disaster.”

President Biden has defended ending “the longest war in American history,” but has rarely talked about withdrawal in major speeches. The president did not directly mention the American soldiers killed during the withdrawal in his State of the Union address six months later, which was sharply criticized by Republicans.

The NSC report did not specifically say whether the administration understands whether Kabul could fall before the full withdrawal of US troops, although it said Mr Biden has instructed US military leaders to plan for a full range of scenarios, including a “rapid” deterioration. security situation.

“As of late May 2021, the assessment was still that Kabul would likely not come under serious pressure until late 2021 after US troops leave,” the NSC paper said. “As planning intensified throughout the late spring and early summer, intelligence reports indicated that — even if the Taliban gained in some Afghan provinces — the capital, Kabul, would be more difficult for the Taliban to take and the ANDSF would defend.”

The summary referred to the Pentagon’s review of the explosion at Kabul Airport’s Abbey Gate and a botched US airstrike. An Afghan civilian was killed and his family members. It was not said if the rest of his family members have been relocated or if they have yet received bereavement payments.

No comment on this withdrawal would be complete without mentioning the horrific attack on Hamid Karzai International Airport’s Abbey Gate on August 26, Kirby said. “But at the time the president made it clear to operational commanders that force protection was his highest priority.”

Kirby said the United States continues to facilitate the departure of Americans from Afghanistan. But the NSC did not say how many Americans are still believed to be on the paper. The State Department struggled to identify the number of Americans still in Afghanistan in 2021, noting that Americans are not required to register at the embassy in Kabul.

The NSC paper states that the United States has facilitated the departure of more than 950 American citizens “who sought assistance in leaving,” as well as many Afghans who have assisted the United States.

“The effort was certainly not without pain, suffering or bloodshed,” Kirby said Thursday. “But it was not without courage or poise or professionalism. For all the lessons we take, we should remember that in more than 20 years of war and its final days, these men and women saw things and did things and took things. Theirs is that you and I will never understand. We must make sure they and their families know their service matters. We must make sure they get the help and support they need. We must make sure their legacy is never forgotten. They Ending our country’s longest war. It will never be easy to do.”

The Kirby and NSC report states that lessons learned in Afghanistan have been applied in countries such as Ethiopia and Ukraine.

“We now prioritize earlier migration when faced with a deteriorating security situation,” the NSC paper said.

Kirby also said the review process is far from over, noting that the Afghanistan War Commission has been tasked with studying the war. “America’s longest war deserves a long review and a long study, and the president is committed to that,” he said.

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