tv Pentagon Officials Testify on Afghanistan CSPAN November 2, 2021 11:44pm-2:21am EDT
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1929. the chair of the calvin coolidge presidential foundation on this week's episode of booknotes plus. available on the c-span app or wherever you get your podcast. the senate armed services committee hears testimony on the withdrawal from afghanistan and undersecretary for defense policy and director for the joint chiefs of staff testify. this is just over two and a half hours.
>> i will now call the hearing to order. good morning. the committee meets today to examine the security situation in south and central asia in light of the transition of u.s. military from afghanistan. this is the sixth event in the of engagement that seek to engage the united states military 20 year mission in afghanistan. understand factors that led to the tele bans rapid takeover of the country and the collapse of the afghan forces, over the operations in the afghan evacuees and calibrate the counterterrorism operations in light of emerging threats and national security priorities. joining us today are
undersecretary of defense for policy and lieutenant general, director for operations joint staff. thank you both for being here. i know there may be a tendency during the hearing to focus on the final months in afghanistan. i would stress again that the eventsts surrounding did not happen in a vacuum. the path that led to this outcome was over the years of mistakes from the catastrophic pivot to iraq to the failure to effectively grapple with pakistan support for taliban before the agreement. and the willingness to recognize and ask the state on the operation of today and the future. one fundamental question that requires close examination is how did the decade-long strategy for building the afghan security forces result in a force that
was capable of defeating the taliban and a seemingly collapse in a matter of days. we need to better understand what led to the development of the afghan security forces that suffered from lowlo morale, widespread corruption and which were un- capable of operating without u.s. and coalition support. in addition, we need to assess the extent to which the failure on the afghan government to earn the loyalty of the afghan security forces contributed to their being unwilling to against the taliban. further, the inability across multiple organizations effectively deal with pakistan is another example of the paths being prologue managing the relationship with pakistan will remain important as we seek to successfully implement a regional counterterrorism strategy with other partners and allies. that is why it's important for us to reflect upon the study, the entirety of the 20 year mission in afghanistan. i agreed with the secretary intf the generals testimony of the
committee last month that there should be a comprehensive review spanning the war in afghanistan. i would support a formal independent study of the afghan arwar as senator duckworth and a member of our colleagues have taken the lead in preparing. i look forward to working to authorize such as the national defense authorization act. at the same time, we cannot allow the examination in the past mission to come at the expense for today in the future. while the united states edited its military mission in afghanistan, we must continue to ensure that al qaeda, isis and other terrorist groups cannot enter to protect the united states and our allies. we must remain vigilant about these threats and ensure that we establish an effective and robust counterterrorism section moving forward. the members received a classified update on the regional security issuesre and threats. the american people deserved reassuring that they are
actively engaged in defending the homelandef against terrorist threats emanating from the region. i would ask that to the extent you can, not because of the sensitive nature of the material, during today's opene session, provide an update on efforts to address the threat from the terrorist groups operating in afghanistan and across the south and central asia. i would also appreciate an update on the progress to build a new regional counterterrorism architecture. finally i would like to understand the status of negotiations with regional allies and partners to facilitate this new fostering weathering and how the adversaries may attempt to constrain or stymie such efforts and strategies. before i turn to the ranking member for the opening remarks, i'd like to remind my colleagues that there will be a classified session immediately following this open session for the office of the senate security, and also remind my colleagues that they are scheduled three votes this
morning so this will be somewhat atcomplicated. with that let me recognize thee ranking member. a. >> thank you mr. chair man and to the witnesses for appearing hereay today. welcome back. as the most senior policy advisers at the dod it is appropriate that you agree to testify in open session on these critical issues. servicemen and women were killed and at least hundreds of american citizens were left behind.an many thousands of afghan partners have been abandoned. although some of the questions on the drawdown have been answered we still have a long way to go until all of the questions are answered and i want to thank jeremy and read for working with us on
continuing this oversight process. too often the current administration tells us that president biden was forced to withdraw from afghanistan because of president trump's agreement with taliban. that isn't true. i thinkha everybody knows that isn't true. president biden hasn't felt bound by president trump's policies on anything elseg on iran or the southwest border or defending the military. second, the agreement was a condition-based approach under presidentde trump's plan and the u.s. agreed to withdraw troops only if the taliban met seven conditions and these included preventing al qaeda from threatening the united states s from afghanistan and denying residents to those threatening the united states. these conditions were not met.
in fact, as the general told us, only one of the seven conditions was met. as we have heard in recent hearings, al qaeda remains active and will likely threaten the united states homeland very, very soon. that's why all of president biden's military advisers told him to keep at least 2500 troops to continue fighting to protect americans here and in the homeland. president biden withdrew anyway and it didn't feel bound by president trump's conditions-based approach and didn't follow it. i wish he had. we would all be safer today if that were the case. you were confirmed on april 207th, so you didn't make a recommendation on the decision
to pull all the troops from afghanistan by a set date rather than based on the conditions on the ground so you were the most senior policy advisors at the dod for the next four months. what i want to know and the american people want to know and the troops are concerned and sacrificed and what they deserve to know is what did president biden most senior advisors do during those four months? we want to know what the team dated on a day-to-day basis as a warning light afterer warning light began to blink red. we need to understand and then fix what went wrong so we can keep american families safe and
protect our interest in the future. the consequences of the disastrous decision are impossible to ignore as an afghan interpreter for our allies was executed last week, they are going after rare earth metals and girls are prevented from going to school. that is just the beginning. the danger is likely to grow. across the world and in our own backyard. we have heard from our military ciofficials and our intelligence officials how little we really know about the rising threat of terrorism now that afghanistan is a safe haven for these organizations. but instead of an honest look at what went wrong, the administration has hunkered down and said this withdrawal was an extraordinary success and
instead of putting together a real counterterrorism plan with a future, all we get is buzzwords. i look forward to the witness' testimony. thank you, chairman reed. >> thank you very much, senator. chairman read, ranking member in half and distinguished members of the senate armed services t committee, thank you for theni opportunity to join you today to discuss the military withdrawal from afghanistan and the departments role in operation allies welcome. i'm joined by the director of the joint staff who will also provide opening remarks following nine. let me start by echoing the secretary and express my pride and the service members. over the last 20 years in afghanistan, our men and women in uniform performed countless acts of bravery. the 2,461 of them paid the ultimate sacrifice while doing
so. they faithfully served and sacrificed, spent months and years away from family and loved ones and endured tours to protect the homeland. men and women serving in afghanistan acted with courage and compassion yet the performance of the soldiers, sailors and marines during the historical evacuation was u unparalleled. in the span following the takeover of kabul, our troops on the ground secured the contested territory. in just 17 days, they evacuated the largest air left in history. the president both in scope and scale enabling moreor than 120,0 u.s. citizens, permanent residents, third-party nationals, afghan partners including those eligible for special immigrant visas and state departments locally employed staff and other vulnerable afghans at risk.
no other military on earth could have accomplished that and we as americans should be immensely proud. the diligent contingency following the april announcement of the withdrawal from afghanistant the department ofpr defense went to work to ensure the drawdown for the accomplishment responsibly. though we did not imagine a situation in which the government and security forces would collapse in a matter of days prior to the conclusion of the retrograde they began the scenario including the possibility of the contested evacuation and in the spring of 2021. in june they sent the carrier strike group to cover the withdrawal. in august as the conditions worsened, p additional forces we placed on alert. the skill and bravery about the allowedthe servicemembers to exe
the mission. to be sure, there were complicationsto and tragedies. while airlifting up to 9,000 people per day, we experienced overcrowding at the airport and the basis for even a qb's on their way to the united states. in the highly dynamic environment we had to adapt to access and evacuate the citizenn and in the end we were unable to reach some of those by august 301st. there were also heartbreaking costs and in the final days of the withdrawal we lost 13 american service members to the suicide attack onre the airport. of these 13 heroes sacrificed their lives to save tens of thousands of people and we willo mourn the tragedy of the deaths and honor of a humanity that they demonstrated in their final mission. i'm also acutely aware of the cost last week i met with the president of nutrition and
education international. he told me of the extraordinary lifeke of an aid worker employed by nei and one of the august 29 airstrike in kabul. it was clear from the conversation that among the ten innocent lives lost including children, they lost a tremendous humanitarian in this strike and for that, at the department we are deeply sorry. just as i committed, i commit to each of you the department will ensure a thorough investigation and accounting for the august 29 airstrike and how we can support the family of those lost via the condolence payment. the military mission in afghanistan may have ended on august 301st of the the service, diplomats and employees remain hard at work to facilitate the departure of u.s. citizens and permanent residents as well as aafghans who worked for and wih
us from afghanistan. from september 1st to f october 205th, the government has directly facilitated the departure of 240 citizens and 157 permanent residents as well as others who come out on private charters. the lawful permanent residents, third-party nationals, afghan partners and others at risk from the airport was only one step in the accomplishment of the military. across the globe and throughout the country only 10,000 of the men and women in uniform continue to support the afghan people alongside the agencye partners via operation allies welcome. we build out the installations across europe and the middle east to serve for the evacuees as they underwent the health screenings to come to the united states.
they continue to be a source of great national strength. at home we have drawn upon another wellspring of national power, the generosity and hospitality of the american people we've welcomed over 6500 evacuees located in domestic military installations as they complete the necessary steps to be settled into the united states. american communities are opening their arms and embracing the evacuees and the resilience is coming to life. for example, at texas and afghan interpreter started in an informal education program for afghan children and at fort dix new jersey, volunteers organized weddings for couples who delayed their ceremonies during the faln of kabul. american service members continue to work around the clock to ensure that evacuees are safe and welcome on the installations. every day we see the men and women in uniform playing ball with afghan children.
this mission is with and without its challenges but we are proud of all of those supporting this. despite the end of the military the department is far from over fwe are examining and learning from the past reckoning with the uncomfortable truth of it despite the decades and billions of dollars of the assessment the afghan military evaporated in the face of the taliban assaults. additionally we are turning to the future bolstering the capacity to engage in over the horizon operations it could harm the homeland or interests. even as we focus the department on the challenges posed by china, russia and other competitors and adversariesnd i know the committee has questions about the war, the evacuation and path forward and i look forward to taking them but before i do i would like to thank the members for your support and partnership and with that, turn it over. >> i'd like to start by thanking jermaine reed, ranking member in nihalf and all members here tody
for your support of our entire joint force. l i'd like to extend my appreciationon to the staff for providing me the opportunity to speak about the military's deliberate withdrawal from afghanistan and the department's contribution to the inner agency to evacuate visa holders and execute the operation for u.s. citizens and other afghans. the interagency coordination and partnership continue to be critical to the ongoing processing and resettlement. i couldn't be more proud of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, mariness and civilians who serve and sacrifice as humbling. it's been the owner of a lifetime to serve alongside of them. as the doctor just explained the breadth and depth of the operation was unparalleled. the operations are among the most challenging missions the
military could undertake. by their very nature they occur with very little notice and often with continuous security environments. the department recognized that it could be the most dangerous course of action and with the interagency we plan for this contingency. this preplanning allowed the department to respond quickly to the department of state's declaration deploying the first package of nearly 6,000 personnel within days. this element executed the largest humanitarian airlift operation ever undertaken. i'm not sure that there's another event that better demonstrates what it means to be an american servicemember and their willingness to sacrifice self while demonstrating compassion under fire so that others may enjoy the freedom and opportunities of those that have died. unfortunately 13 servicemembers did pay the ultimate price and they will be regarded forever. americans were not the only heroes lost over the course of
the 20 year campaign. the allies and partners and afghan civilians were part of the efforts beginning with the invasion and countless afghan national defense in the security forces were lost serving alongside u.s. service members. as doctor kahl explained we are committed to the ongoing investigation and supporting family members. because the committee to question the over the horizon counterterrorism operation now that we no longer have the physical footprint in afghanistan. i look forward to discussing these issues with you today. in the ensuing years the
development and ultimate disillusionment to determine how to charge better paths for the partners in the future. we take the opportunity to better understand c those factos that affect the mission for the nation's interests. the effort to quickly house, transport, vaccinate and resettle the evacuee population continues the herculean effort. the agency works to relocate the citizens and permanent residents and afghans to whom we hold special commitments including those that remain in afghanistan and expressedxp the desire to leave. despite the withdrawal the department remains focused on
counterterrorism threats to the homeland while we and reprioritize following the withdrawal we are actively setting the conditions to be situationally aware of the posture to mitigate and neutralize the developing terrorist threats and streams. thank you mr. secretary. when the general was here, he testified that although al qaeda and other terrorist groupsl have been degraded in the past 20 years that there may be a resurgence of international terrorism for the region within 12 to 36 months. do you concur with that assessment?
>> the assessment depends on which group we are talking about. the community assesses that both isis and al qaeda have the intent to conduct internal operations to the united states and the capability to do so we could see them generate that capability somewhere between six or 12 months. it would take a year or two for that capability and as you said in the opening we have to remain vigilant in that possibility. a. >> do you concur, general? >> i do, sir. last week when the intel folks were here, so the chair man's assessment i concur with that. >> when general mckenzie was here, he indicated that given
the departure of american personnel from afghanistan that of the over the horizon situation wouldn't give the same picture and the resource would be greater, the risk would be greater. i'm sorry, sir, the last half of the question? >> do you believe they were appropriately postured at this time to disrupt terrorist threats emanating from the region and adapting so we can consistently disrupt these activities? >> as you know, when the secretary briefed and b saluteda general mckenzie and the over the horizon counterterrorism capability that we have in place right now and i will go into much more detail in the closed
session but as you know we have a command and control architecture set up to project assets from the golf and we are able to collect across all the sources of intelligence to use that and continue to analyze and if necessary take action in afghanistan. as general mckenzie and the chair man both indicated it is harder but we have the essence in place to disrupt and/or degrade the terrorist networks in afghanistan. >> some of us have suggested that the administration shouldn't have started evacuating people sooner. what did the administration assessment do so to hasten the fall of kabul and did we in fact give assurances that we would maintain a presence and not
signal the lack of confidence? >> so, the goal to retro grade was to assist the afghan government not undermine them and there was concern if you accelerated to include the large numbers of afghans that it would create a self-fulfilling prophecy of the afghan government and it's also something raised as a chief concern. we did bring out more than a thousand prior but there was the concern that the mass exodus could undermine the government. >> finally, can you give us updates with respect to the cooperation with the counterterrorism? there have beene press reports that they were working with the telegram to attack isis k which is an enemy of both. but can you give any further
assessment. i would be happy to talk about that more in the closed session but for right now the counterterrorism operation is pretty good. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman. we really don't know how many americans were left in afghanistan. the administration's number off citizens left in afghanistan keeps changing. we all understand that, and it's very confusing. the administration always said 100 to 200 u.s. citizens but
it's already withdrawn 244 and is in contact with 63 others. 176 of whom want to leave. i'm speaking slowly to put this together at the same time. the administration left 600 americans behind and over 400 of whom want to leave not the 100 to 200 but has been referred to several times. there are still thousands of americans that are unaccounted for based on the secretary's earlier claim that there were ten to 15,000 mid-august the secretary of state tells senators 10,000 to 15,000. on the 31st of august, the
administration claims it withdrew 6,000. it withdrew 6,000 from afghanistan. this means somewhere between 4,000 to 9,000 were left behind. in october, the administration stated that 234 americans have been evacuated since the 31st of august and in contact its width of the 363 in afghanistan, 176 of whom want to leave. of the efforts to go down and
document everything. so at the very least, it's confusing. during the august 18 interview on abc, george stephanopoulos asked president biden whether u.s. troops would stay beyond august 301st. if there were still americans to evacuate. president biden responded, quote, if there are american citizens left, we are going to stay to get them out. of course this didn't happen. i would ask you when did you realize that the united states would not be able to get all the u.s.f citizens out of afghanistn by august 301st and did you present your leadership in the options forr extending that deadline to ensure people were out of harm's way at that point?
>> as it first mattered, nobody was abandoned. we continue to get the people out of afghanistan including american citizens. and if you would like i would be happy to go through the latest numbers on that. >> i've already done the latest numbers and maybe there are later numbers. i can give you some fidelity on the numbers. so, the validated numbers from the state department were 6,000. imwe had about 5500. they documented 240 american citizens september 1st and 157
green card holders. when you account for additional individuals e. we estimate they are currently in afghanistan. the departmentep of state is in contact with 196 american citizens who are ready to depart and arrangements are being made for them too do so either via ar or ground. another 243 american citizens are contacted and not ready to depart either because they want to stay in afghanistan or they are not ready. >> the question i asked, did you present your leadership for extending those deadlines to ensure that people were out of harms way?
>> it wasn't you. >> it was the consensus of civilian and military leadership in the department ofde defense o stickk to the august 31 deadlin. it would cause a risk and make it harder to get american citizens out beyond that date. >> the same military leadership that insists we leave troops down there at the time that we evacuate? >> that's correct. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator shaheen, please. >> thank you both for being here this morning and for your efforts to support the evacuation inst afghanistan. i want to recognize the tremendous service of the men and women who made possible that evacuation and continue to support then afghan refugees. i was proud of the members of the national guard volunteered to go to the joint base mcguire
as part of the refuge and believe they represent what we have seen across our armed forces. we've heard a number of those men and women that served in afghanistan who continue to be concerned about people they served with, afghans they served with during their time who were stillck in afghanistan whose lis were being threatened by the taliban because of their service. those that have received the visas are ready.
at the state department has a group that they've established. the group that solely focuses on the additional folks coming out of afghanistan. they are also working with about 52 special-interest groups that doctor kahl's office into the joint staff are part of. we meet with those groups twice a week because they acknowledge the understanding in contact with others at risk that continue to try to find and the state department works with the documentation there is generally a flight or two a week that does bring out not just american citizens and permanent residents but also afghans at risk. >> do you have a sense of how many remain in afghanistan?
>> the total number in the pipeline is 28,000 according to our records of which 8,555 have come out with their family members so that was ati significant number still in afghanistan and i share your concerns and we will work to try to get them out and hold the tablet into their plan with documents which should include siv. >> yone of the challenges for those applicants has been getting the documents that confirm that they work alongside the military. one of the challenges has been that the dod hasn't provided the documents in many cases. and so, what are we doing to reform that issue for not just the current applicants, but for future? >> as the committee is aware,
the process wasn't designed for an emergency. it's very slow. nothing was done in the previous administration to speed that up or bring anybody up after the agreement in 2020. at the beginning of the biden administration the department took some steps that shrunk the time to about eight months. at the dod if self doesn't provided the documents but it comes through the state department in some cases they've provided physical visas to people in afghanistan and others electronic documents that have becausensmitted obviously it is not in afghanistan anymore. if there are other changes that need to be made i hope that you will share that with of the committee so we can continue to
ensure that we don't have bureaucratic impediments to getting people out of the country. a. >> my time has to do with the status in afghanistan and we've seen the number of attacks. is itt our assessment that the taliban has the capacity to defeat isis k in the country? >> it is our assessment that they are mortal enemies, so the taliban and is highly motivated to go after and their ability to do so is to be determined. >> do you share that? >> i do. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you mr. chairman. first of all, i have a
statement. preparing remarks on page three talks about the work of the department is far from over and learning from the past reckoning with the uncomfortable truth that despite decades and billions of dollars of u.s. investment, the afghan military evaporated in the face of the r assault. let me just remind everyone that for the past six or seven years before the debacle in kabul, the afghan military took almost all of the casualties and fatalities and fought bravely on behalf of their country and a general, i appreciate the fact that you've been deployed a number of times and served in dangerous situations, but on the final page of your written statement, you talk about the afghan
national defense security forces into say there will be a case study for the department in the ensuing years and a case study for historians in the coming years. and you make the statement while we cannot and will never be able to instill the will to fight, we can and will take the opportunity to better understand and so forth. may i suggest that both of the statements are unworthy of the secretary defense for policy of the administration or the director of operations for the joint staff, and in fact it was a decision by the administration to pull support for the afghan national defense forces that led to the debacle and to suggest
that this group of armed forces supported by the united states but populated almost entirely by afghan soldiers was unwilling to fight or evaporated in the face of combat is a shameful and unworthy statement. mr. secretary, on august 10th, the white house said it's not inevitable that the townn band takes over kabul or the country, and i'm quoting directly five days later we abandoned the embassy in kabul for the national defense forces that we were out of there and that they could not depend on us anymore. and was that part of, was the
abandonment of the embassy part of the troop withdrawal plan? >> it wasn't part of the plan. the embassy was evacuated once they had essentially already collapsed so starting on or about august 11, you saw the cascade of the capitals that culminated in the taliban and evaporated and left the country on the 15th and we moved our diplomats to the airport. >> who took the vast majority of the casualties in combat from say 2014 to the abandonment of kabul? >> the afghan national security forces. >> do you think that it's fair to suggest they do not have the will to fight? we will not be able to instill the will to fight is that a fair statement, general? >> i agree how the chair man and
the secretary when we talk about this very topic during theny testimony the leadership and the will to fight when we hold off at the tactical level from the advisory perspective several years ago the visibility in terms of the condition of the national security forces became less and less.rt what i would offer based on my experience is my fault alongside the afghans and the will to fight. i think the follow-on thing we will need to study as part of history is the will to fight for what and that i think is the fundamental question. did they have the will to fight in afghanistan and that is the part that we have to determine going forward. a. >> senator hirono.chairman.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. a secretary kahl, did i hear you say that al qaeda and isis is developing the capability within two years? >> with the current assessment it is that isis could potentially develop a capability within six to 12 months and then al qaeda could potentially develop that capability within one to two years but it's precisely the threat that we need to remain. ..
operations to assess prominent afghan leaders who are at risk from the retribution from the taliban? and i join my colleagues and asking president biden to appoint an ambassador large to coordinate girls rights in afghanistan. and that is needed now more your knowledge has anyone been nominated to fill the spot? >> can you respond to my series of questions? >> i would be happy to. with the situation on the ground in afghanistan but the conditions that the taliban are ruthless authoritarian band with an inclusive government they did not do that suggesting having a hard time girls and have a hard time going to school we haven't seen evidence yet whites better price doesn't mean it's happening it just means wean haven't seen that
evidence yet that these violence levels of human rights abuses and that there was recognition they should not give that recognition and they are very different government than they are now. they have found that to provide some leverage and we should continue humanitarian assistance. not to the government bed around the government to at risk populations as it relates to the state department's position on women and girls i don't have any information on that and i would defer to the state department. >> i know the international community has come forward with billions of dollars in aid and is supposed to go directly to nongovernmental entities but that they have ton work with the taliban to that it gets to the people they are providing the aid two.
>> do you have some sense of that? >> obviously that falls more in the area of usaid and i would refer the specifics to them but from my understanding is that ngos and international organizations are able to operate around the taliban t government provided directly. >> there are a number of people seeking siv status so what agencies are leading the effort for documentation that is necessary for the applicants to get that status? >> the state department is in the lead for the siv issue but
from the department of defense verify employment. we set out what is called project rabbit to streamline the data to make that process as efficient as possible. >> . >> thank you mr. chairman. last month general milley and general mckenzie both testified on the challenges on the counterterrorism strikes. against targets in afghanistan. unlike other places in the world where we conduct over the horizon cte operations, afghanistan is landlocked. we have no reliable partners on the ground and we have no agreements of neighboring countries. secretary, the general testified for those agreements or reasons of any country bordering afghanistan? >> we have not secured arrangements we have had extensive conversation. >> thank you. >>e secretary, since president biden made the decision to
withdraw in april, he is touted over the horizon cte operation has our strategy going forward. can you share with the committee any tangible steps the administration has made to secure basing agreements with those countries? keep it short please and we can talk about that in a closed session. >> thank you. i look forward to learning about the status of those negotiations with those countries. with the taliban in control of the afghan government and the absence of reliable on the ground partners, is it more challenging or less challenging for the isis-k and al qaeda in afghanistan?
for those that needed to identify and also to locate targets for counterterrorism operations. >> yes ma'am that is a fair characterization. it is more challenging to collect and in the closed session we will layout those percentages across all different intel specialties in terms of what degradation looks like. >> and with those afghan forces or the reports they have not been paid in months? >> i am broadly aware but i think our visibility was highly degraded. >> we concerned in june when the taliban took control of 21 districts across nine provinces over the course off four days most of them without a single shot being fired. y >> yes. >> there is any point prior to
august 14 did you ever question the intelligence community's assessment of the afghan government and asked the security forces to be viable for weeks or months or years following our departure? >> that with the biden administration assessed what happened with respect to the collapse of the afghan security forces is deeply troubling. not just that our predictions were overtaken by events some of those underlying assumptions were based where fraud. mr. secretary how can you possibly assure us that is not happening between the reality on the ground and the biden administration's analysis of how long it will take al qaeda
or isis-k to gain ability to attack the united states? and when you speak a six months as a possibility from the homeland to be in danger those are numbers we will be sure to update on that in the classified? >> on the latter we will give update. there are other colleagues here that provided you with the latest. we should all be humbled we have known that about afghanistan than we thought a we did especially after the doha agreement in 2020 our forces decline substantially and pulled off the afghan security forces. >> .
>> mr. secretary for the question on afghanistan that is not either. >> it is continuing that the terrorist threat continues. >> do you agree with general milley's testimony the outcome of the war was a strategic failure? >> i think the strategic objective to destroy al qaeda and bin laden was achieved but the nationbuilding several administrations have is not successful. >> he believed the biden administration bears any responsible for the outcome of this war or for the taliban now being in charge of afghanistan? >> i think what we saw unfold the past humans would have happened whenever we left afghanistan. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you mr. chairman.
i feel like we are in a time or poor history started january. in fact it started february 29, 2020 when the doha agreement was signed. i read it probably ten times. i'm a country lawyer but it is not conditions based. it guarantees we will withdraw in afghanistan in a certain number of months and days. it does talk about the taliban guarantees that al qaeda will not have safe haven as far as we know that still the case. does talk about negotiations between the taliban and the afghan government. but that is not a condition of withdrawal. the decision to leave afghanistan was made by the former administration in february 2020. the question before president biden was do you abide by that
agreement or do you abrogate? so the consequences of abiding by it. so let's talk about the consequences of abrogating it. >> so it is my believe that attacks from the taliban the one condition in the doha agreement and that would have resumed. >> it would have been necessary job mandate presents what it not? >> potentially. although the assessment at the time is 2500 to deal with that. but time could only tell based
on the veracity and the type of attacks that started to occur. >> and to greater danger and leaving with the taliban to extract the remaining citizens which impact has happened. will both to the taliban free to attack us at that point. because of the abrogation but also the terrorist threat which i saw that played itself out at thet airport spirit that is correct. that consensus among the joint t chiefs on the ground that is
staying past august 31 word have resumed attacks and the ability to get american citizens and legal permanent residents out. that would have goneut up highe. >> the since august 31st the w taliban has honored i don't know if it'sf an under standing or agreement or implicit understanding. to let these americans out and asked ivs out. s>> that's correct, senator. it has not been without challenge. but those that are properly documented as briefed earlier. >> what is your assessment of the president made the opposite decision? what military immediately that we establish to testimony with anis additional 2500? on the americans in the country over the course of
2021. >> there two.that we heavily on the president and the exchange that we have come under attack. and then to stand in reinforcements for protection but the other is i know the president continued by these intelligence committee that staying at 2500 was not producing a stalemate it was eroding. in other words the afghans were losing. so at some point, even if not taking casualties the president went to face pressure to escalate just like barack obama did at the beginning of his administration. when the afghans were losing and what president trump did at the beginning of his administration when the afghans were losing. the president did not believe 2500 was a stable equilibrium. if they tested that. >> i appreciate that. thank you.
>> so the cambridge and the outrage of what has happened because there was no a bridge out there with the former administration essentially made an agreement for thees taliban. unconditional u essentially to get the chip stop by a certain day which is may 1st 2021. not august 31st. with that, i yield. >> thank you senator. >> thank you for being here today if we continue to
examine the repercussions the president bidens disastrous withdrawal fromm afghanistan. and the abandonment of americans to the hands of the taliban. is it true president biden said we would not leave when there were americans left behind? >> we have not left americans behind they continue to get out. >> we left americans behind. >> we did not leave americans behind they continue to get out. >> you represent the dod. did the dod leave before all americans were out? >> it was the consensus judgment that leaving on augustt was the best way. >> general, did the dod did our soldiers leave before all americans were out? >> yes ma'am. the last airplane left that evening of this 30th of august. >> thank you for your straight forward answer general.
is there more or less risk of attacks against americans in american interests because of the precipitous withdrawal of american military capabilities in the region. >> and from isis-k so that homeland could be between six to 12 months from now. >> they intelligence they can build that capability. we need to be vigilant and disrupting that. >> it doesn't sound low risk. so what had assessments can you use for planning the security environment that would occur after the us withdrawal?
what assessment? >> when i came into office, the decision had already been made. i was overseeing from a survey billion perspective a retrograde operation. >> yes you informed me and a closed session last time you are busy sitting on the couch see you are not paying attention to those assessments which i disagreed with because i do believe that in a position such as yours you should absolutely be keeping up with period assessments especially as we are pulling out our military troops leaving americans at siv holders behind since you came into office those assessments that were used by others that they prove to be accurate? >> .
>> and paying attention to all those assessments. >> that means any policy recommendations are planning recommendations that were made at that time are now ill-suited for the security environment we are now facing. >> we are pastoring to an over the horizon posture even before they collapsed before the a&e ss collapse me that mission harder but not impossible. >> what regional force posture going back to a number of questions you have already had, what regional force possibility isr are we now recommending be ready with the security environment that is now true onto the ground? w >> we have a robust presence in the golf on —- in the gulf
we should discuss this in a closed session. >> in the time remaining what measures have you recommended that we constitution that we are now learning about with isis-k and al qaeda? >> we need to remain diligent about collecting intelligence we can talk about exactly how we do that in a closed session. we need to build up more capabilities so it's not just reliant on the facilities that we have. >> in the remaining time. thank you for being here today. we will continue looking into this. i hope we are able to form an outside committee that can take a look at the past 20 years of war on terror. but i want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the men and women that have served our great united states armed forces. and all they have given and their families have given over the course of the past 20
years. they have faced significant and on surmountable challenges that yet they have overcome and served as well. and we can never diminish their service. especially in the face of an administration that would not listen to our military leaders. god bless them and their service to the united states. >> thank you senator gillibrand. >> i also want to command all servicemembers who served in afghanistan. i want to focus on the last point of a review. members of the committee and myself includedde have a new objective audit on the war in its entirety. general million dollars there were many lessons to be learned from america's longest
war. any commission or review should be an interagency effort. do you have any recommendations for an external independent review in afghanistan or what you thinkgr congress' role should be or do you recommended being included? >> we are supportive of the senators proposal for an independent commission on this. we are strongly supportive of that. we have efforts underway at the department of defense about to be underway. there is a joint staff my organization is working to do an independent review especially from february 2022 the and of the new year and we're in conversations with the nfc and the state department to make sure whatever we do their ongoing lessons learned activities.
>> and then if we look at the answers from what we have learned? >> with the testimony earlier in the hearing and an estimate at isis-k to launch an attack within six to 12 months. and that al qaeda could launch an attack within one or two years. and acknowledging we are in an unclassified settings with theun broad objectives are adversaries may have in afghanistan and what planning is dod doing in response to those recommendations and objectives? >> so the intelligence community would say that isis-k and al qaeda could have the capability to do attacks within that timeframe. if they do or not is something that cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty.
we are deploying isr in afghanistan and we also have national technical means which we can talk more about typesetting and other partners in the uk and others that are focused on this problems that. so we will try to keep the ability to get after it. but i will say i think the taliban is highly motivated to go after isis-k. think al qaedada is much more complicated because the connie network to say that the taliban is very of afghanistan being a springboard for al qaeda external attacks because they fear international retribution of that would occur. >> and if i could this is come up several times in terms of
the timeframe of al qaeda and isis-k that is based on no us coalition or intervention and what we will talk about in a classified session about strategy. the goal is to keep them where they are now if not further. >> can you give an assessment of what you're is to regional instability and how that may impact with russia and china? >> both russia and china are nervous despite that it was suggest afghanistan is more of a problem that is on their doorstep and hours. i think both of them have counterterrorism concerns and basing your more willing to work with the taliban as we are. and then afghanistan's other's neighbors, we've already talk about packet —- pakistan but
they were about the counterterrorism challenge and the implosion of afghanistan leading to refugee flows across the borders. >> with what resources or bilateral relation improvement will be necessary to gainnt support for regional partners and we has a very specific ideas. i recommend we talk about in the closed session.es >> thank you mr. chairman. >> senator? >> thank you thank you are doing an extraordinary job on this matter and appreciate the willingness to do that. and then we gather important information from these hearings. and secretary call, i like the
fact you support an independent commission but it would also be helpful as that may upset for our committee to compile about the comprehensive report about what we haveco learned through the oversight hearings. can i get your commitment to work with the majority made minority staff to put something together? >> we can provide the information you need for those efforts. >> general, when we talk about the 2500 troops and secretary call i mayay come back to you but we need to understand more broadly, i just want to confirm that i have my facts correct. general millie and general mckenzie both said there was a consensus of 2500 troops that we could maintain in a relatively stable situation. nothing is guaranteed. so talking about 2500 fighters. the intelligence community with remaining in place in
afghanistan and almost another 6000 troops on the nato partners and allies. we are talking somewhere on the order 8000, 8500 being president on —- being present. is that the numbers? >> if than nato coalition contractors would've stayed consistent, yes the number is accurate. >> and have assets in afghanistan. >> and by the way, senator kane i have been against the delhi agreement since february 29. i thought it was a bad idea and i am not fundamentally surprised but i do have to question.
it seems to me on briefings that we have received, there were a number of examples in the signing of the agreement were either the taliban did not live up to the spirit of the agreement. one thing we heard consistently they would do targeted attacks of the national leadership which is one of the these type on —- destabilizing influence so you say generally they honor the agreement i could tell you really real life examples they slit the throat of a pregnant woman and in that category also slit the throat that thet family members sent us two of the 900 that are on the list
that we are still trying to get out of the country. the taliban mayt be doing a better job in the marketing department when we knew every single day people are dying there that have a legitimate reason to be out of the country. you said that percent principles of the delhi agreement can you tell me were that is not the case. >> i apologize if i misspoke and that's largely not attacking us forces sense the delhi agreement. others were in clear violation. >> i'm glad to hear that. that's consistent to what general millie testified to a couple of weeks ago. >> and so now i went to go back to you secretary call. and to testify before some of those recommendations of the
2500 troops predated your confirmation. but after you were confirmed where you briefed and to what extent did these proposals even get considered when we saw that are voting process in afghanistan or was it covered c ground at that point by the time you got in at the end of april? >> by theap time i got in a president had made a decision and the department was executing on that decision. there is not an major relitigation of reversing course. so in his view once we did the retrograde because we are already so small and compact. we really hadso to have the retrograde done at the beginning of july. the remaining mission was to protect the industry and had a few hundred troops. we did put in a couple hundred
additional troops with close air support and the july and august timeframe as the taliban was making gains. that was essentially a short-term measure and the plan is to stick to the august t day and that t was not to the best of my knowledge. >> i look forward to our committee thank you mr. chair. >> . >> thank you mr. chairman. the us went into afghanistan almost exactly 20 years ago. it took usct only about two months to launch from power and another three months or al qaeda for those east of kabul. we started nationbuilding and to create an afghan national army by warlords and other
government officials to target their enemies we have little understanding of the underlyingng political dynamics and in those families in search of osama bin laden and al qaeda to create new enemies instead. and the e hardest place is actually not grounds for the taliban before our arrival. but with each civilian we accidentally killed and we killed many. we killed their friends and families and we put them into the heart arms of the taliban. the opium fields created another dilemma. we would bomb or destroy the opium crops and drive those farmers into the arms of the taliban or we allow the opium to grow and then watch the taliban shakedown the farmers and use the proceeds to finance their operations.
or, we would give the farmer fertilizer to grow something else and then watch the farmers sell the fertilizer to the makers of the ied. on top off that we flooded the country with billions of dollars with the corruption that was undermining the legitimacy of the afghan government that we were trying to prop up. >> so the stories and examples that you just use strongly suggested never known as much about afghanistan as we thought that we did the secretary testified we did not have a 20 year strategy in afghanistan we had 21 year on
—- 20, one year plans. and that wires illustrative of that. i think we made some progress in afghanistan and living conditions were improved access to schooling was improved and things got better but the structural plans is endemic corruption and has never had a long history of a strong central government. we were not able to overcome any of that. and the taliban helps to fight for forever. so i think those are realities we are able to overcome. >> i know we can point to women make progress in the country. but it is hard to describe overall that things got better
in afghanistan. who was caught in the middle of all of this violence to have government officials to corruption and who suffer the most innocent afghan civilians and that brown university to estimate exactly 47000 afghan were killed along with another 66000 afghan military and police. and while all of this was happening and we wereti creating the very conditions that were used to justify our continued presence, military officials, came beforee this committee, one after another, time after time and are making progress. we are turning the corner. general millie told the committee last month that our presence would have been needed indefinitely. do you agree with that assessment? >> yes.
>> what does that mean for the taliban and al qaeda. >> that we would have had thousands of people probably more than 2500 over time and that was the presidents assessment and we were spending tens of billions of dollars every year and also sacrificing our servicemembers for participation of the war. >> i would argue with our presence would have been required indefinitely that casts grave doubts on years of military assessments that we were ever making progress. this whole enterprise was a catch-22 and it should humble everyone in this room and cause all of us to reflect on howt badly everyone got it wrong. and above all there should be a call from congress in this committee in particular to
start exercising more oversight during ongoing military operations. instead of waiting until it is over to be political advantageous to do so. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> you testified that you are not yet sworn in one the president announced his decision to withdraw from afghanistan and you are told senator ernst you are on your couch during that period. while you are on your couch we preparing for yourin confirmation hearing and then to take the office you now hold? >> it was after my confirmation hearing and i was preparing the best i could with open source material. >> from the time you were nominate or confirm did you speak with national security advisor jake sullivan? >> i don't think so.
>> not one. >> we wereno under construction not told do anything that would presume confirmation. >> following the news were open sources. what point did you become the president's decision to withdraw all the troops in afghanistan by september 11? >> when it was announced to the nation. so what was your opinion on if we should withdraw the troops are we mean when the true presence in afghanistan? >> . >>on similar to what this committee has heard from secretary austin and generals
miller and mckenzie and millie that we should maintain a residual true presence in afghanistan. >> byy the time the president made his decision we were executing on that decision. i was involved on the us embassy and at the airport to make sure we could safeguard the embassy. i wasol involved in the oversight of the retrograde and planning. >> you did or did not have a personal opinion? >> it never changer by the time i came into office the president made his decision. >> do you agree september 11 was an appropriate date with which to withdraw? >> i have no idea. >> since you have been confirmed you have never once spoke to secretary austin are jake sullivan why september 11 was chosen quick. >> and retrospectively september 11 was the date not
to leave afghanistan? >> the biden ministrations as is no intelligence showing the afghan national army would collapse so quickly we also supplies by the speed within which the security forces collapsed? thank you think we're all surprise. >> are you aware the intelligence community shorten the timeline of the assessment how long the afghan government could survive from a matter of years at the end of last year to a matter of weeks at the end of july? >> and by our guest on the eve of the fall of kabul it was between days and weeks to months two years and then two weeks and then days. >> in june there was a brief pause of the ultimate closure of the airbase to decide whether or not they should
proceed. obviously it didn't was it your opinion in late june given the conditions that the closure of the airbase should proceed quick. >> it was general millie's recommendation but they have instructed them to leave afghanistan so there is no scenario we would leave that and then the residual mission that is aware of the concentration of a few hundred forces and then that is where they would c have been concentrated. >> in 2011 the deputy assistant secretary of defense for the middle east you stated the following despite the often exaggerated media narrative that puts iraq on the verge of unresolved unraveling the security situation is strong. unfortunately not long after there was a rampage across syria and iraq and one third that had a new counterterrorist operation you
cannot perceive the unraveling of iraq if you do not perceive the unraveling of afghanistan. are there any other country is about to cause national security debacles that you are not seeing now? >> i don't know think we are focused on the counterterrorism threat front with the growth a violent extremism we continue to have to be vigilant and as we talked about earlier in this hearing in afghanistan and then even greater challenges when it comes to china, russia, iran, north korea, there is a lot. >> let's hope that we perceive them better than we have in the past. >> thank you senator cut. >> .
>> and so with those temples and homes that is just another reminder that this information spread on social media all too often results in real-world violence. asked the terrorism natalie threat and innocent civilians but also the stability of an ally with whom we have a long history of cooperation on security and development and humanitarian assistance as well as disaster relief. so as you look in our strategic interest in the regional security context, how do you prioritize the information? and can us security assistance in south and central asia enhance the resilience to informationha and warfare? it's a niche and issue that i raise this room any time we would love to hear your
thoughts. >> so i agree that information and information operations areio everything they can enable our adversaries or violent extremist and the social media platforms don't do nearly enough for along the lines that you suggested and i think that there are things that the department of defense can do to help our partners especially in thell cyberrealm and to coordinate with and to coordinate the pushback with o propaganda and misinformation but a lot of this falls outside of dod and so the department of defense plays a vital role if you can counter usthese activities becomes less foldable to external influence about the chinese as well as the russians to acknowledge
that piece of it and what they're thinking of in particular. >> and india's policies towards afghanistan have been conceived largely through the lens of competition and proxy conflict with pakistan so it stands to reason it should be no less concerned about the possibility of a taliban government could benefit especially those oriented toward cashmere and with joint cooperation and interoperability with this critical partner and the fact india is the only designated major defense partner of the united states it's important to their view towards afghanistan have and will evolve i'm not asking you to
speak for an ally would just your thoughts or any insights from the us india defense policy group this month? think i've had a number of encounters that you mentioned with my indian colleagues. number one i'm sure you are aware they are concerned about the situation in afghanistan and between instability there and the counterterrorism concerns. they want to work with us on these issues sharing intelligence cooperating where we can i would say that there is a tremendous convergence between interest right now that provides a lot of opportunity to cooperate not just in afghanistan and counterterrorism the broader regional security questionsdi and as it relates to the broader deficit. >> russia the military and security posture and central
about financially? >> i don't have a precise number of what is in the bank. i don't think they are nearly as well resourced as iraq and in that time frame when isis controlled all of the oil wells and had $1 billion of annual revenues but for the moment it is mostly focused on creating havoc within afghanistan but they do have a cadre of a few thousand folks some of which to the broader isis network so they have to be vigilant. >> this can be part of the
strategy and then to acquire both financial resources and recruitment resources and how do you sense that is going quick. >> i've not seen a lot of evidence going back to the iraq example. isis could knock off a bank seeing iraqi money with no version off that. and i also think the taliban is committed to going after isis-k. the taliban capability is to be determined but they are intent on doing it. so i'm not seeing huge gains by isis gave it to see them carry out horrific bombings against the minority population and i think we should expect that will continue. but we have to be focused on the subset that can emanate out words. >> so you describe that as
inspiring? >> it could be al qaeda. the taliban has not seen that either al qaeda or isis-k have to look in nigeria or somalia or to have that galvanizing effect the department homeland security is focused on the. >> if you look at how we parse a violent extremism out certain efforts whether internally or externally
focused that has the capability and the intense. here only focused to be externally focused is still limited. our efforts in the months going ahead as we continue to improve architecture is that m that extra capability never comes to fruition. >> on behalf of the chair, senator rosen. >> thank you we appreciate that. also to the ranking member are critically important hearing on security and afghanistan. also once agains and want to thank our troops who served our nation after nearly 20 years and the families who love them and serve with them. looking ahead to the future security of central asia we must also come back to this
point with 20 years of decisions and that responsibility particularly to the administration what set sat on the path of capitulation to the taliban. nevertheless it is frustrating and shameful that despite her efforts to save lives to bring vulnerable individuals to freedom, the american people deserve accountability and answers. i'm also concerned about the regional implications of withdraw insecurity and counterterrorism and americanncc interest. so i like to follow up with the secretary —- questions i asked secretary boston and then to combat terrorism in the region.
>> with that violent extremist organizations are talking about in afghanistan and how has this changed now that the afghan partners are no longer in control of the country? >> general we can start with you. >> yes me on. first we start with no two organizations are the same. and with those variables with the ensuing level of us effort that they continue to disrupt and the grades the pose a threat for us homeland.
from my perspective on the military side the resources necessary to prosecute and continue to disrupt and degrade. we have those based on recommendations from nikon that and commanders that where posture can do that. in this session right before we go to close, i can say we can routinely conduct operations in syria, iraq, and other places to make sure they are not there. in terms of afghanistan, we continue to ensure that but we will talk about the specific assets that are applied to that. doctor call, i will defer to him with histe thoughts of the broader strategy for violent extremist organizations. >> thank you. >> in afghanistan as it relates think in terms of layers.s ideally you have partners on the ground. that doesn't happen. that's not the case and set one —- afghanistan.
libya is a good example of where we could knock isis back pretty hard in 2019 timeframe without boots on the ground. we can talk about that in the closed session. but then we had the is assetse in the gulf we had national technical means to give us insight into these organizationsiz we do share intelligence with our partnersnt who share the counterterrorism objectives and seeking to look at a more robust ecosystem which would include region all players with respect to to iotake a stand on —- jessica stan to take a stand. >> and were doing in the cyberrealm. >> and what we are doing in
operations. >> so how do you talk about the collapse of the afghan government with the fact that isis and al qaeda and iraq and syria? will afghanistan see a surge of foreign fighters coming in? >> i think it's possible. we need to be vigilant against the possibility. so my read based on the intelligence community is if the taliban is not keen to see those erara foreign fighters to repopulate either isis-k or al qaeda. in particular because the taliban and isis-k are mortal enemies. >> my time is just about expired. i yield back. >> thank you senator rosen. >> thank you mr. chairman thank you mr. chairman. mr. secretary, 20 years ago
president bush had said in an interview that he was the full force of the military to come and defend taiwan prominent us senator. and he said in this case, president bush and attention to detail damaged and that words matter is prominent senator said. of course it was senator biden last week and his words have dramatically summoned confusion on the sensitiveas issue. and the men and women of the military doing a great job for contingencies, military contingencies. that the president said we will defend taiwan publicly. was that are new policy?
>> the white house clarify the president was not trying to establish new policy. it remains that was under the relations ask banks of the president statement was incorrect? >> i defer to the white house. >> so from the white house. >> the policy is under the relations act that o we are prepared to ensure taiwan to defend itself and also to deter coercion. >> so you agree with president biden 20 years ago when he criticized president bush to say that his statement and imitation on —- and attention to detail the with credibility throughout the pacific graham quick. >> and those that are resolved and then to be engaged with
our indo pacific allies and partners repeatedly. they know the department in us government tries to face a challenge. >> this is our budget relative to china's budget with national democrats unfortunately they cut defense spending their what the republicans but the one thing that is certain china keeps spending. >> so the one issue that i keep hearing about is the 6 trillion-dollar budget and those two agencies that actually are proposing to cut is dod and homeland security. those are cats. that is your budget that is
what matters to the chinese more than anything. and that is president bidens budget bernie sanders budget, senator schumer, but recently mr. secretary this committee and the house committee repeated that pretty dramatically the budgets we have put forward in the ndaa and the w house version two different increased defense spending by a real increase of 3 percent moving from about 715 billion does the department now agree in a very bipartisan way this committee said we shouldn't do that. that sends a bad message to the chinese. do you agree? >> that's congress' prerogative to do exactly what you did. from the department's
perspective china is the number one challenge and to be laser focused and our budget. >> do you agree with what we did in that committee quick. >> it is our prerogative of course. but we should not be spending significant resources in china. >> what about you? i know it's a difficult issue because you have to support the president's budget. but they have to constitutionally. that in your personal opinion would you rather have the house and the senate 740 billion top line or the biden administration top line. >> and that predictable and
sustainable is the most important to the department of defense when you look at the modernization bills coming forward in the coming years. the 740 is a better number than what was proposed in my personal opinion. >> . >> thank you senator now let me recognize senator. >> thank you mr. chairman it thank you for your support of the proposal that i drafted with the backing of a number of my colleagues who were sitting here today i'm looking forward as part of the massive defense authorization act also witnesses have confirmed independent commission has been appointed through a narrow scope we will fail and to learn the wrong lessons if we don't work at the role of
all government agencies involved in only dod similarly we woulde miss that importance so if we have a truly nonpartisan independent body to make those recommendations and then from repeating past mistakes and if we don't resource the commission appropriately and because they don't want to commit to the voices. >> to even be in nine partisan independent with the war from afghanistan. general thank you for expressing your support with the war in afghanistan and what further lessons could be examined and with those government agencies how will they with the policymakers?
>> . >> and you alluded to this and just from the mission set with the counterterrorism commission moving to civilian to a nationbuilding mission, we invaded iraq and we never dealt with that sanctuary it has been discussed several times the legitimacy of how we mirror image both the government and the nationals the forces we didn't understand the culture as well as we should have. or the component of it as well that if you take all of those and there's several that i am omitting ashes larger than dod or interagency. it has to be a whole government approach so as many elements to look at this independently of always be good for the nation going
forward. >> thank you. doctor powell think it for your statement of support before you are confirmed much of the work was the analysis of the grand strategy so in the event thinking about many different agencies shaper national security. did this result in the actions of the dod along with the department of state andor the intelligence community and multiple administrations also impact in afghanistan quick. >> it's importantnt to have a scope and scale so it needs to look holistic we at 20 years not just the dod involvement that interagency involvement from an economic and development perspective and intelligence perspective to those that are outside of the dod lane. but frankly it is also an opportunity to explore the
mentality and overall approach and how that manifested in 20 years in afghanistan. >> so how does this work on such a broad committee for policymakers? you just mentioned post 9/11 so how are those lessons learned through that independent commission from policymakers? >> it's personal with the major opportunity to take a holistic be but the department of defense will do reviews of different time frames but inevitably it is a soda straw that we will look through that they will do the same the intelligence community will do the same. they might even pull those threads together but at the end of the day there is a
wider context and the opportunities to make this bipartisan and independent with the scope and scale be appropriate will have tremendous value. >> and what needs to be a part of this has to be apartmentio and coalition. >> i agree because we expected the departments to do a little bit more. thank you for your testimony today. over 20 years we prosecutor the war without a viable strategy. and also otherwise we will bes doomed to repeat it. we all went to our constituents into our veterans.
>> given that the president committed to all americans before the military would be, would you say a successful evacuation included before our troops left. >> to set one —- success is hard from what the president said with a recommendation for the military and we go back and look i'm not even sure that there is an example of where we have done it feel and all of these out of that giving country so given the remote nature of afghanistan in the various locations the american citizens have a reasonable expectation you have 100 percent out before
the 31st. >> and so to get all americans citizens out before we remove troops? do you think it should be the policy of the united states that we will remove us military before we evacuate americans citizens and partners in the future? >> i think it would be hard to quantify a hypothetical because there are so many variables and no scenario would be identical so that decision in a recommendation by the joint chiefs to depart on the 31st took into account the situation on the ground for this particular situation it was deemed that calculus in the risk to american citizens would be higher if we stay beyond the 31t then if when we left on the 31t
to include the risk of the troopers that were on the ground. >> is the president said they troops were not even tell all were evacuated. would you feel our president military let them down? >> there may be some that have that view that our commitment to bring american citizens outd. has been important. >> i i assume in military leadership they understood the e risk to remove assets for asked citizens and partners did you are in the administration of the risk before all americans were evacuated? >> did we provide that risk did you wind the administration to bring the troops out first before everyone was evacuated and the fact to evacuate peopleha earlier did you want them the path they were going down is a
risk? >> i was not present for those conversations when he made those recommendations but i do know he wasn't prepared even with the decision to can't out in april to provide the risk associated with the withdrawal. >> so did the pentagon choose to rely on for security at the airport? >> as we withdrew they were a part of that security ecosystem. >> you made the decision? the state or pentagon? >> if memory serves it is a combination of commanders on the ground. up through the chain of command.
>> on the outskirts of when the end and assessable that's not what is the outer parameter the outer security for the w forces that were outside where we were at. >> with the president warned of the risk of relying on the taliban for security? >> ie am not aware if he was informed about or not. >> thank you chairman. >> thank you very much senator now i will recognize senator blumenthal. >> thank you for your continuing attention to these issues and having this hearing today. last week i had the opportunity to visit quantico as of the date to house 4410
afghan men and women and children who were able to escape afghanistan to have a maximum capacity of 5000 people and number that first of all we want to commend the extraordinary work done by the united states marine corps at quantico and their partners from other military branches and with the state department and the cdc and others. that during our briefings we have the opportunity not only to meet those marines that are hosting is afghans guess one —- gets but then they are recharged with our resettlement.
>> and then managed to deploy those forces with many who remain there. i met with a family of five that could save on charter flights from nigeria and then they left after the withdrawal after the military these are flights my office was involved in facilitating. i was incredibly moved to meet with his family. it happened by h coincidence that the family was chosen to meet with me as beneficiaries of the charter flight that my office worked day and night to facilitate. sadly more members of they are very family are fighting and seeking assistance so they can leave afghanistan. literally brothers and other family managerer —- members who
are in grave danger. more needs to be done. i start significant concerns about the pace of resettlement we were tragically slow in planning the execution of the evacuation mission the airlift of 120,000 people that was accomplished even though many remain. we cannot again rely on optimistic expectations. we must plan for reality and to be ready for the worst-case situations. we were told the afghans word departing for settlements over three or four weeks. i don't believe that. there were already 52
births, joyous occasions for sure but it prevents not only the mother and child from being able to travel and to be resettled but then the entire family unit but that is just an example of the impediment to resettlement. i think we need to focus on the fact the case is not keeping up with the pace of new arrivals. so as these locations meet maximum capacity we face a alooming crisis and that's completed in one or two days. at that point there are resettlement opportunities. and then the temperate one at that. it will change. so then life will become more
and more difficult. so those other expedition on —- expeditionary that do not afford of what is necessary if the top richard drops on —- if the temperature drops there's not enough to house those individuals. before my time expires we face 75, 80000 seeking resettlement and of those refugees, a total of 120,000 evacuated. we had failed to provide the resources so far that will have resettlement it is of the
mean crisis and i will ask for your response in writing of how medical care, housing, and other services would be asked and what to be done. >> thank you senator. >> thank you mr. chairman. undersecretary. young r will recognize. >> so as the undersecretary of defense for policy orug in the time between president biden's inauguration and your confirmation, did you ever have a conversation with general miller about the future of afghanistan? >> now. >> you did not quite okay and
after the testimony tellingio the senator you have an opportunity to participate in the decision process with afghanistan so then attending confirmation in late april but you actually at home sitting on the couch or were you involved in the president's decision calculus when and how to withdraw from afghanistan? >> . >> were you ever part where a general miller? the rock trail was on may 8 about 1 week later. >> 's you are present? >> on the retrograde? >> i was. >> what we are concerned about
side made the decision to let the bad guys evaporate into the wind. it frustrates me beyond belief. please continue to try to find out who's responsible for the decision to run from barb rumford and sounds like that decision is directly related to the deaths of my son 12 other u.s. service members. i am duty-bound to my
constituents, tennesseans and military families from our state who have reached out to me about this horrific debacle in afghanistan. i need to ask you a few questions. bear in mind you are not speaking to me, you are speaking to them so throttle any animosity you have toward me and to our service members who want these answers. who specifically is responsible for the decisions to withdraw u.s. forces from bagram airfield? >> when the president decided we would withdraw from afghanistan, who were going to leave the bottom as a consequent of leaving afghanistan. >> so it was the president's decision? >> the president directed we leave afghanistan and general
miller executed retrograde that included this? >> okay, the president. who specifically is responsible for the decision to leave paris prisoners in bottom despite impending advance of the taliban forces? >> the person you're speaking of is happy airfield, is off the airfield and transfer to the afghans in. [two bells tolling] so it wasn't part of the retrograde to transfer that, it was transferred eight years prior. >> okay so you're saying leaving barbara had no impact at all on the prisoners being free. is that the position this administration that you have nothing to do with this? >> people of good character and judgment click disagree, i think afghan national security forces had control of the present and were handed control of barbara airfield some of the taliban overran the forces, they took over the airfield in the prison. >> was a decision made to give
up barbara airfield and execute speedy withdrawal from afghanistan? >> the decision was to leave which means we would leave bottom and the retrograde plan included leaving barbara. >> thank you. >> countries like china have long benefit presence in afghanistan and stability we've provided in the region cloth the conclusion of us-led operations forced countries in the region to reassess policies toward afghanistan. patient including china and russia developing closer relationships with the taliban. china in particular sought to call attention to eight donations and pushed the un to lift sanctions without asking much accountability from the taliban so how would you assess china's intentions and
priorities in respect to afghanistan and what concerns do you have for holly's impact u.s. interests? >> the are important questions, i think 90s quite worried at the moment, they benefited from our presence in afghanistan the practically rail against the trade interventions, they are worried about growing instability on their border, china says share a narrow border with afghanistan. they are worried withdrawal from afghanistan ballack to refocus elsewhere in the pacific checking back to challenge they present. we know that. you are right china is trying to influence events in afghanistan through economics, they are not able to do that unilaterally because of un sanctions, it's about revived ministration not to recognize the taliban government or lift sanctions and let conditions the taliban are
leaving. >> how should u.s. policy toward afghanistan and china's activities the into the broader context of our strategic competition with china? >> we have to be mindful of competing with china in a lot of places. i would not avoid afghanistan off the top of the list. first, we have to focus on the western pacific and the indian ocean and places in africa and elsewhere for the chinese are seeking to turn facilities into military bases and other things so we should have an eye on what china is doing in afghanistan power not make it the focal.of my strategy and checking back. >> thank you. general mingus, u.s. military relationship with allies and south and central area critical to regional stability and national security in many of these relationships are strengthened to joint exercises
and training in these activities can serve as a deterrent to regional aggression. please continue to see russia live exercises with regional actors including joint military exercise near the northern afghanistan who's becca sent this summer, similarly china conducted joint military exercise in august. from an operational standpoint, are we doing rough militarily to train, equip and prepare south and central asia partners? >> thank you, that's one of the things doctor has alluded to would like to talk about in closed session and the outcomes of fat and we are looking at ways to expand in central asian states. >> i'm looking forward to hearing more about that in closed session.
, arthur talk about china -- actually, let's switch and talk about taliban. in media interviews and public discourse, calorie attempted to downplay the threat posed by isis including recent attacks. they've tried to play up their own efforts to counter isis, pointing to arrests and suggesting they averted isis planes, welcome we learned from the fact that the taliban is more interested putting up positive spins on its ability to govern the night are working to address known threats to both afghan international security? >> i don't think we should trust the taliban, whatever they say, we have to watch what they do.
the only thing we can have faith in his they will try to advance their own narrow interests, as it relates to isis k problem set, they do not have interest in isis k establishing afghanistan either to destabilize afghanistan for conduct external operation. i believe the taliban is motivated to go after isis k if their ability to do so i think his duty determined. >> have we seen any success, is there any intel you could talk about that shows success with them going after isis k? >> i think we have seen instances going after isis k, during the war there were battles at times between taliban and isis k as well but i do want to keep in mind as it relates to the streams we are focused on from isis k, it's the ones that
might be projected from afghanistan, who cannot seem that materializing would not count on the taliban to be the ones responsible for disrupting that, will have our own capabilities. >> what can we do to contain that threat? >> we should continue to engage the taliban we had go half a couple weeks ago, high levels, to hold the taliban accountable for their commitments under the february 2020 agreement to not allow afghanistan to be a safe haven for international terrorism. taliban tells us that remain committed but it's not just their words matter, it will be fair action. >> thank you. >> i understand august 18 from the council general sent the following e-mail to his team, i'm going to quote it for you. present biden phoned ambassador
wilson with the following directives who do clear and enoch was? anyone with about form of id should be given permission to go on a plane. if that person plausibly falls into the categories, we will evaluate. u.s. citizens and fpr's intermediate families, those entitled to as iv and afghans at risk. number two, families including women and children should be allowed through and held to fill out the planes. number three, total to the u.s. must exceed the number of seats available, err on the side of excess. i'm still quoting, clear discretion and direction and provide special consideration for women and children, i expect light volume will increase. are you aware of guns to evacuate afghans who might
plausibly about these categories, fill seats regardless whether the passengers were eligible or not an error on the side of excess? are you familiar with this? >> i can't speak to that specific engagement but our priorities in that timeframe first and foremost american citizens and bring an employed staff state department and other agencies and departments and others with documents but was the case as we were bringing good horses", we have excess capacity to bring people out so what the president was signaling was if there are other clearly afghans at risk we can safely bring into the airport and get off the airfield, we should do that math test on the e-mail says, it clearly says plausibly, flights need to be filled out. he says we need to err on the side of excess, we now know we
got major problems of the people brought to this country, evacuated and brought to this country. this seems to indicate the administration, if they plausibly fall, get them on the plane, is not wrong? >> i was always foremost in our mind but the fighting wasn't there. >> when did that happen? >> the lily pads, these works -- >> consisted of what? >> carter, kuwait, iran, ran china and elsewhere, essentially teams at the dod would collect biometric information, biographic information and the information would be sent through the tvp and fbi databases in only people who cleared the vetting so they didn't have contacts with the taliban for al qaeda or isis
were to be manifested and brought to the united states and people who required further processing were not brought to the u.s. was ever in prison setting been? >> all of it was in person. >> that's not interviews, that's fingerprinting so where there ever in percent -- that's screening, was there in person vetting? >> where there was sufficient information or derogatory information -- derogatory information could be future the same name was somebody or your phone number touched a phone number of a phone number. where there was derogatory information and yes, follow-up interviews and additional study was done. >> at the lily pads? in the u.s., too or just lily pads? >> there may have been instances where they received additional fighting product directly to the dhs. >> i'm talking to dhs believe me. what dhs says, there's never any
in person vetting anywhere. not the lily pads on the u.s., your testimony here says there was in person vetting. he sat down and did interviews, is that right? >> my understanding is at the lily pad, cutter, bahrain, kuwait etc., those who pop derogatory information, if they can be cleared because ours a misunderstanding, someone with the same name, if it required further investigation, there were times where the fbi spoke to the individuals. >> he testified in september those evacuated about 6000 american citizens, he testified in september as iv's for about 12 or 1300, that leaves 116,700 people based on form 24000 you've been offering. 116,000, 700 people not citizens not as ivs, we just don't know
much about, who were those people? so we are all working off the same set of numbers, we evacuated around 2000 u.s. embassy personnel, we evacuated 5530 american citizens, we evacuated 3335 third country nationals something about us someone who works for another embassy, not an afghan. we evacuated during the neo 2496 siv holders and we evacuated 64052 other afghans at risk, some of those on our picchu or p1 or p2 refugee roles. ...
>> 84 percent of the people we brought out were afghans. >> my time is expired i have a number of questions for you for the record spirit there's a lot to sort through here. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you for your service and thank you for being here today. it has been a long day but i want to talk about the delhi agreement and the timeline. i would think you would say there are four main parts of
the delhi agreement one was a comprehensive condition with withdrawal of american troops. president biden says september 11. we talked about that how long before the taliban violated the terms of the agreement in your mind quick. >> it is a really meant testified from the very beginning the only part that was not attacking us forces the rest of the agreement they did not stick with. >> me first, they did some damage obviously over in afghanistan. given that the taliban broke the deal so quickly, did you change your policy assessment on may 1st? >> by the time i came into office the decision was already made. my position that i testified
during my confirmation to other conditions based withdrawal. my personal position never change but by the time i came into office the president already made his decision and that would not be real litigated. >> but they kept breaking their promises the first full month. i have a couple clients to show you. do things get better in the second month in june? they captured 69 districts in june. it was starting to ramp up. not only do they capture 69 districts but also vehicles and all kinds of stuff. did you rethink your policy at that time considering it was ramping up? did you gave your preference upstream to those needed to listen? >> you are right the security situation deteriorated in june got worse in july catastrophically worse in august. we are focusing on the retrograde that was the direction from the president.
>> moving on to july how many districts to the taliban capture in july? >> i have a reason. >> 64. >> the president said i am brief daily on battlefield updates. 's a president biden knew how badly it was going. it was wrapping up in afghanistan but yet we gave up the bar graham airfield that month. >> that was to be called to be given up in early july. >> by the third month they have enter the capitals and then they control 223 districts. denominated districts are in afghanistan? >> by that time it must've been more than half. >> 407 total and 223 districts they had overtaken. so then the fourth month on the job, august, after three straight months of bloodshed
did you suggest changing course? in the president directed we leave afghanistan. there were conversations whether we should position forces to provide more close air support and we did that and the july and august timeframe putting additional forces for additional recovery so we could do more air strikes but the course of the policy was set in april and we carried out that policy. >> it got worse. biden was ramping up and to recap in three and a half months that you were there , due to this administration's incompetence we saw complete collapse of afghanistan in that short period of time. wasting 20 years of blood and treasure since he took office to me america is laissez-faire
allies are less safe and once again we have to confront radical islamic terrorism somewhere down the road. i don't understand how those four months we make a timeline and then get away from it. from the beginning can you tell me what time of the year the taliban tradition would counterattack our forces? >> the summer fighting season typically starts in the spring and a plan throughout the winter and build up supplies and it typically starts in april or may and runs through the father is not to suggest there's not fighting during the winter. it does subside that given amount passes in the snow and the challenges that is typically why the fighting does subside a little bit in the winter. >> it wouldn't surprise you that they say we have more fighting in the summer? so why didn't we reduced our
presence in the fall and winter when the weather was worse? other than when they were away from home congregating and ready to do whatever they needed to do to fight take over afghanistan? >> the timeline for the departure was set. i was not part of that deliberation. that i don't know the rationale the on the president calculated the longer we stay beyond the deadline of the delhi agreement. >> was there any military talk on that you can remember? >> there was. and mr. chairman i was not present with a personal recommendation but the state testified the personal feelings that the 2500 should
have stayed and become a conditions based withdrawal but as pointed out with the president was wrestling with that was extended toward the end of the summer deadline in the potential for the re- commencing of hostilities and that was the strategic dilemma. >> thank you for your service and time. i apologize. >> the committee will stand in recess and we convene at 2:15 p.m. for a closed session. i'm sorry. 12:15 p.m. i have been corrected appropriately. the committee will stand in recess. [inaudible conversations] john s
voting rights advancement act. last night, i took the necessary procedural steps to set up a vote on wednesday in the senate on the john lewis voting rights advancement act. tomorrow, the senate is going to take a first vote on whether or not we debate, merely debate a bill to reinstate preclearance ov