The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold its first hearing Wednesday morning on what Republicans are calling the Biden administration’s “stunning failure” of leadership during the military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The panel, led by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), will focus on the commander-in-chief’s role in the chaotic days in August 2021 when the US military abruptly pulled out of Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban to quickly overtake the capital Kabul.
In the aftermath, the administration conducted a haphazard evacuation effort to fly US citizens and Afghans out of the war-torn country — leading to a suicide bombing that killed 13 US service members and 170 civilians as the military scrambled to remain in control of Hamid Karzai International Airport.
While about 85,000 Afghans were able to leave the country, thousands more — including US citizens and Afghans who supported the US during its two-decade war there — were left behind.
Now under Taliban rule, Afghanistan has become an economic disaster, with rampant food shortages, and the country has reverted to its previous oppressive treatment of women and girls.
McCaul said Wednesday’s hearing will zero in on the calamitous evacuation as the administration hurried to meet its August deadline to leave the country.
“What happened in Afghanistan was a systemic breakdown of the federal government at every level – and a stunning failure of leadership by the Biden administration. As a result, the world watched heartbreaking scenes unfold in and around the Kabul airport,” McCaul said in a statement to The Hill.
“I want every gold and blue star family member, and every veteran out there who watch this hearing to know: I will not rest until we determine how this happened – and hold those accountable responsible,” he said.
An aide to the Republican-led committee told Fox News Digital that the hearing will act not only as a “scene setter” but also a reminder of why the investigation into the withdrawal is so critical and to allow veterans to describe their experiences on the ground during the evacuations.
There is a feeling that the federal government ”dismissed the trauma this caused,” the aide said, by sweeping the operation under the rug.
The witnesses will include: Former Army Specialist Aidan Gunderson, who was inside the Kabul airport during the evacuation; Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews, a Marine seriously injured in the suicide bombing; Francis Q. Hoang, the executive chairman of Allied Airlift 21, which operates a registry for Afghans wanting to be evacuated; Peter Lucier, an official with Team America Relief; and retired Lt. Col. David Scott Mann, the founder of Task Force Pineapple, a volunteer group working to evacuate US citizens and Afghans.