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tv   Defense Secretary Military Officials Testify on Afghanistan Withdrawal  CSPAN  September 30, 2021 2:20am-6:59am EDT

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secretary lloyd austin general kenneth mckenzie head of u.s. central command.
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[background noises] [background noises] [background noises] >> good morning. this has been a case for a while this hybrid hearing we
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have some members participating remotely inhi addition to those who are present for their rules for that i need to read a statement that sets out those rules before we get going. members who are joining remotely must be visible on screen for the purposes of identity verification establishing and maintaining a form, participating in the proceeding and voting those content you choose esop where platform video tenets while in attendance unless have connectivity issues of the technical problems that unable to participate on camera. they should contact the committee staff for assistance. video of member's participation would broadcast in the room via the television/internet feeds. embers participating must seek a recognition verbally asked andne moved to their microphones when they're not speaking. members are participating remotely reminded get the software platform video function on the entire time they attend the proceeding. members may leave and rejoin the proceeding but if members depart for a short while, for reasons other than joining a different proceeding that should be the video function on. members of the absent for a
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significant part or depart to join a different proceeding, they should exit the saltworks software platform entirely and then rejoin it if they return. members may use the software platformrm chat features to talk with staff with support issues only. mute unrecognized members microbes to cancel any inadvertent backer noise it may disrupt the proceeding. thank you good morning. i like to welcome her witnesses here today the honorable lloyd austin the third secretary of defense. general markham elite chairman joint chiefs of staff and general frank mckenzie commander u.s. central command. want to thank them for the time today as they provide an update on the issues during the end of the u.s. military mission in afghanistan and the mission going forward dealing with counterterrorism and south asia and the continuing mission to try to get as many afghans and any remaining americans out of the country. i'm looking forward to but i hope will be very important policy discussion. at the center of our
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examination of the u.s. military mission in afghanistan is the desire to learn from her twenty-year involvement there. we must have an open and honest analysis of everything that went into that. not just the events of the last year or six months. but, before getting into that we should take a moment to recognize the service of the over 800,000 men and women who served in afghanistan over the last 20 years. more importantlyho i like to remember and honor the 2461 who made the ultimate sacrifice along with the over 20000 for the physical wounds of war and those who bear the unseen wounds of war. right we will vigorously debate policy decisions related to the u.s. military mission inun afghanistan. i believe i speak for the entire committee we express our gratitude to those in their families who would sacrifice so much over those last 20 years. we owe them a debt that cannot be repaid. i agreed and continued to agree with the decision that was made to end our military presence in afghanistan.
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it was the right decision. our larger and to help build a government in afghanistan could cover effectively and defeat the taliban had failed. more money and more lost american lives were not going to change that. the events we witnessed in afghanistan in the wake of the collapse of the afghan government and august happen primarily because of this reality because the fundamental reality that our mission to try to stand up a government in place of the taliban had failed. that reality is what caused tthe overwhelming majority of the problems we faced. there is no easy or safe way to get everyone out of that country, we wanted to get out. yet in the face of that are military conducted the largest human airlift in history and coordination with the rest of the inner agency and the allies of act went over what had 20000 people. this evacuation however did not come without cost. wewe lost 13 u.s. service members and dozens of innocent afghansos with the isis-k attack on august 26 where there's
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also a tragic mistake in august when i went a drone site killed as many as ten buried following this mistake, and others expect to be provided with the results of a timely comprehensive and transparent investigation of this tragedy including accountability measures and any changes to procedures that are deemed necessary. in importantly our work is not done as there are more who remained in afghanistan who would like to leave it. we must work to ensure the inner agencies as all the tools required and coordinated to assist those remaining individuals. there are some, going back to the issue of whether or not we should have left afghanistan who imagined there is a middle option that we could've cap 2500wh troops there and ate relatively peaceful and stable environments. i think the way that option has been presented by many of the critics has been fundamental and disingenuous for the option of keeping 2500 troops in afghanistan a peaceful and stable environment did not exist. i've heard many compare this
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to the troops we left in south korea and japan. i find that analogy just completely idiotic if i'm being honest but south korea usand japan we are not under attack where there is a deterrent. in afghanistan we would have been under attack. that is the fundamental fact tooou many people are forgetting. the peace agreement signed by the previous president wasn't based on a requirement that we get all of our troops out by may 1. that's the only reason the taliban had not attacked us in the previous 18 months. once that expired said no we are staying, they would have been under attack. this is been a subject of a huge misunderstanding in the then again i find very, very disingenuous paid people are saying the president said nobody offered, nobody said we should keep 2500 there. what the president actually said there was no option on the table to keep 2500 troops asin afghanistan in a stable environment. that is what he said right now
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but no one presented that option, that option did not exist in reality. and no oneal presented it. the president made it clear earlier in the same interview that yes, some of his military leaders hadte said we should keep 2500 troops was. he said none of them said we could do it in a stable peaceful environment. that is the key points. the other key point is and i know a lot of energy will be expended today trying to get these gentlemen to admit they did note agree at the president's decision. first of all i would never engage in that exercise. i believe thepr present the democrat or republican to serve the unabridged advice of his or her commanders. you cannot give that if you have to go out in public and estalk about it. but second of all the president is the one in charge. this is ultimately what civilian control of the military means. what i believe i believe certainly there are military commanders and said no we should stick it out we should keep the 2500 there, i think they were wrong and so did the president. it's not they did not make the
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advice it's that they were wrong. this committee has an enormous amount of respect for military leadership. that does not mean the militaryee leadership is incapable of being wrong. over the coursery of the past 20 years in afghanistan i thought we would have learned that lesson. president biden had the courage to finally make the decision to say no we are not succeeding in this mission, placing more american lives at risk will not change that. if we could credibly safely just stuck it out for another year, and of the five, another ten, got a better result will be a difficult call. was not worth the risk? we cannot credibly say that so we would have been putting american lives at risk for a mission we had to know is not achievable. the president made the right call on that. it is the issue of how we withdrew. i will say and i been critical of this, i think the effort to get the s ids and the others who wanted to getee out of afghanistan certainly could have been handled better and could've been started sooner. it certainly seemed rushed i want to hear from her leaders
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today about how that played out. but again, let's member the other alternative is not easy. the alternative of left start pulling people out sooner than ghanaian government the government that was in charge of afghanistan at the time we were doing this was adamantly opposed to us pulling all the military equipment and hundred and thousands of their afghan supporters out for obvious reasons, how would we haveip done that against the objection of the existing afghan government for the taliban were rolling across the countryside? it would not have been easy no matter how it's done. we do deserve an accounting forit how those decisions were made. think today is an excellent opportunity to dow that. i look forward to questions and answers as well as a testimony of our witnesses. and with that i yield to the ranking member mr. rogers. >> thank you, mr. chairman. while iu, have great admiration for my friend the chairman, i could not disagree more with his observations about afghanistan and the
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president'ss decision. the fact is our coalition partners in our military leadership felt that we should have maintained our 2500 troops there along with roughly 7500 w or 8000 coalition troops in the thousands of contractors the afghan army was defended on to fight successfully. and i think they could have continued as they have in past years had they had thatht support and the president had listened to his generals advice. but,gi regardless of how you feel about the decision to remove troops from afghanistan we can all agree that with drawl was an unmitigated disaster. hundreds of americans were left behind, thousands of afghan allies stuck with little hope of escape. potentially billions worth of u.s. provided military equipment not in the hands of the taliban. thousands of hard and al qaeda terrorists freed from prison ten innocent afghans including seven children killed in a botched airstrike.
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but worst of all, 13 and brave american service members were murdered by a coward and a suicide vest. what's more infuriating as all this could've been avoided at the president had a plan. in briefings and hearing since april we demanded to know a plan to eight safely evacuate americans and afghan allies np, conduct counter operations the response in the biden ministration was we are working on it right now it's clear, they never had a plan. the president repeatedly assured the american people the taliban takeover was not inevitable. that we had plenty of time to safely evacuate americans and afghan allies for this was not going to be a fall like saigon. as late as august 19 the president promised us that if there is an american citizen left were going to stay to get them all out. noww it is clear the president hass misled us more than one spent august 31 hundreds of americans left behind the 13
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service members murders the present suit and the east room ofof the white house and called the withdrawal quote and extort a success" i fear the present is delusional for this was an not and extort a success it was an extraordinary disaster portal go down in histories where the greatest failures of american leadership. we are here today to get answerss on how the hell this a happened. i expect our witnesses to give us an honest accounting of exactly what we are wrong h part i want answers on how were going to conduct counterterrorism operations now thatha we have zero presence in afghanistan. this the first question we asked you in april we still do not have an answer but according to the latest intelligence assessment it could be as little as 12 months before al qaeda leaves afghanistan as a base to conduct strikes against united states and that is unacceptable. this talk up over the horizon capabilities force. sure we can setpa a drone out to take out the terrace but we
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don't know where the terrorists are. rrwithout persistent isr capabilities and intelligence on the ground that is impossible. we have neither of thoseca now. and does not help we need to fly the drone nearly 1600 miles to reach afghanistan leaving little time on station or that we have to fly over pakistan and allyn, of the caliban who can revoke overflight privileges at any time buried none of this is giving us much confidence the administration can sell successfully conduct counter terror iniv afghanistan. what capabilities do we need, where will it be based and howw will it be used? in other words we went to see a planth we want to see it today but frankly after this debacle of a withdrawal no one can trust anything this president says about afghanistan, mr. chairman i yield back. >> mr. secretary were recognized. >> chairman smith ranking member rogers members of the
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committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss our recent drawdown and evacuation operations in afghanistan. i'm pleased to be joined by generals millie and mckenzie hill i know will be able to provide you with additional context. i am incredibly proud of the men and women of the u.s. armed forces who conducted themselves with tremendous skill and professionalism throughout the war, the drawdown and the evacuation. 2461 of our fellow americans made the ultimate sacrifice along with more than 20000 still bear the wounds of war, some of which cannot be seen on the outside. now we can discuss and debate the decisions, the policies and the turning point since april of this year when the president made clear his intent to end american involvement in this war. we can debate the decisions over the last 20 years that
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have led us to this point. the one thing not open for debate is the service and compassion of our service members who from along with their families served and sacrificed to ensure their homeland will never again be attacked the way it was in september 11, 2001. i had this chance to speak with many of them during the few weeksn a including the marines who lost 11 of their teammates in kabul on the 26th ofin august. i have never been more humbled and inspired. they are rightfully proud of what they accomplished in the lives they saved in such a short period of time. troops wereur able to get there so quickly is because we plan for just such a contingency. we began think about the possibilities for noncombatant evacuation as far back as the spring. by late april, to accept the president's decision, military planners have crafted a number of evacuation scenarios.
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in mid may i ordered sitcom to make preparations for potential noncombatant evacuation operation. and two weeks later i began repositioning forces in the region to include three infantryee battalions. on the tenth of august around another tabletop exercise around a 1 noncombatant evacuation scenario. we wanted to be ready and we work. but had the state department called significant numbers of forces had already arrived in afghanistan including leading elements of the 24th marine expeditionary unit who were already on the ground in kabul. before that we can rest out, another 3000 or so ground troops had arrived including elements of the 82nd airborne. to be clear, those first two days were difficult. we all wash with alarm the images of the afghans rushing the runway and our aircraft were we all remember the
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scenes and the confusion. >> sorry we will get that under control go ahead sir. >> outside the airport but within 48 hours our troops restored order on the process began to take hold. our soldiers and airmen and marines in partnership with our allies, our partners and our state department colleagues secured the gates, took control the airport operations, and set up a processing system for the tens of thousands of people they would be manifesting ontoop airplanes. they, and our commanders, exceeded all expectations. we plan to execute -- plan to evacuate between 70,080,000 people. they evacuated more than 124,000 people. we plan to move between 5,009,000 people per day and on average they moved slightly more than 7000 people per day. military aircraft alone we
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flew more than 387 sorties. averaging nearly 23 per day. at the height of this operation and aircraft was taking off every 45 minutes. and not a single sorbate was missed for maintenance, fuel, oras logistical problems. it was the largest airlift conducted in the u.s. history is executed in just 17 days. was it perfect? of course not. we moved so many people so quickly at a kabul we ran into capacity and screening problems and intermediary staging areas outside of afghanistan. we are still working to get americans out who wish to leave. we did not get out all of our afghan allies and our special immigrant visa program. we take that seriously. that is why we are working across the inter- agency to continue facilitating their departure, even with no military presence on the ground, that part of our mission is notot over. and tragically lives were also lost. several afghans killed
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climbing aboardls an aircraft on that first day, 13 brave u.s. service members andt thousands of afghan civilians killed in a terrorist attack on the 26th. we took as many as ten innocent lives in a drone strike on the 29th. noncombatant evacuations remain among the most challenging military operations even in the best of circumstances. and the circumstances in ideal.were anything but extreme heat, a landlocked country, no government, a highly dynamic situation on the ground, and an active credible and lethal terrorist threat. in the span of just two days from august 13 -- august 15 we went from working alongside a democratically elected long-term partner government tot coordinating warily with a long-term anime bread we operate in a deeply dangerous environment and it proved a lesson and pragmatism and
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professionalism. we also learned a lot of other lessons to about how to turn it air force base to an international airport overnight. about how to rapidly screen, process manifest large numbers of people. nothing like this has ever been done before and no other military in the world coulds have pulled it off. and i think that is crucial. i knelt members of this committee will have questions on many things such as why we turn over the airfield and how real are over the horizon capability is. and why we did not start evacuation sooner. and why we did not stay longer to get more people out. let me take each in turn. retaining blogger would have put as many 5000 troops in harms way just to operate and defend it. it would have contributed little to the mission that we had been assigned to trade that was to protect and defend the embassy which was 30 some miles away.
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also rendered of little value in the evacuation. so staying even for counterterrorism purposes and then staying at war in afghanistan, something the president made clear he would not do. and as for over the horizon operations, when we use that term we refer to assets and target analysis that come from outside the country in which the operation occurs. these are effective and fairly common operations. just days ago we conducted one such strike in sierra eliminating eight senior al qaeda figure. over the horizon operations are difficult but absently possible. and theor intelligence and support them comes from a variety of sources and not just u.s. boots on the ground. as for when we started evacuations, offered input to the state department's mindful
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of their concerns moving too soon might cause a collapse of the afghan government that we all wanted to avoid it. not moving too late would put our people and our operations at greater risk. atas i said, the fact our troops were on the ground so quickly is due in large portion, and large part are prating in pre-positioning of forces. as for the emissions and, my judgment remains that extending beyond the end of august would greatly imperiled our people and our mission paid the taliban made clear their cooperation would end on the first of september. and as you know, we face grave and growing threat surmises kate. so staying longer than we did would have made even more dangerous for our people and would not have significantly change the number of evacuees we could get out. so, as we consider these technical issues today we must also ask ourselves some equally tough questions about the wider war itself. imposter think about the
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lessons we have learned over the past 20 years. did we have the right strategy? did we have too many tragedies?es did we put too much faith in our ability to build a tiny afghan institutions? an army, and air force police force and government ministries? we help build a state but we cannot forge a nation. the fact the afghan army that we and our partners trained, simply melted away, and many cases without firing a shot took us all by surprise. be dishonest to claim otherwise. we need to consider some uncomfortable truths. that we did not fully comprehend the depth of corruption and poor leadership and their senior ranks. that weor do not grasp the damaging effect of frequent and unexplained rotations by president donnie of his commanders. that we did not anticipate the snowball effect caused by the deals that the taliban commanders struck with local leaders in the wake of the
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agreement. the agreement itself had a demoralizing effect on afghan soldiers. and that we failed to fully grasp there's only so much for which and for home many of the afghan forces would fight. we provided the afghan military with the equipment and aircraft and the skills to use them. and over the years they often fought bravely and tens of thousands of afghan soldiers and police officers died. but in the end we could not provide them with the will to win, at least not all of them. as a veteran of that war i am personally reckoning with all ofet that. i hope as i said at the outset to cloud our pride in the way our people thought it. they prevented another 911, they showed extraordinary courage andth compassion in the war's last days, they made lasting progress the taliban will findsi difficult to reverse
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in the international community should work hard to preserve. and now our service members and civilians face a new mission. helping these evacuees move on to new lives and new places bread they are performing that one magnificently as well. he spent some time with some of them it joint face this past monday. i know you share my profound gratitude and respect for their service, their courage and professionalism. i appreciate the support that this committee continues to provide them and their families. thank you. >> chairman millie. >> chairman smith, ranking members of rogers, thank you for the opportunity to be>> here to discuss afghanistan. in the past 20 years the men and women of the united states military along with our allies and partners fought the taliban, brought osama bin laden to justice a till night al qaeda sanctuary and protectedgh our homeland for two consecutive decades.
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served in afghanistan. most importantly, 2461 u.s. soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines paid the ultimate 20698 were wounded in action. countless others suffer the invisible wounds of war. there is no doubt in my mind that our efforts prevented an attack on the homeland from afghanistan which was ourts core mission. and everyone, everyone who ever served and that war in afghanistan should be proud, your service mattered. beginning in 2011 we steadily drew down the street troop numbers and equipment from afghanistan at our peak we had 97 u.s. troops alongside 41000 nato troops in after get a
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stand. on 2020 the united states had 12006 are shipped with 8000 nato and 10,000 500 contractors in afghanistan. this has been a ten year multi- administration drawdown covid 19819 month retrograde or 17 date noncombatant operation. under the agreement the united states began to withdraw its forces contingent upon the taliban and meeting certain conditions that would lead to political agreement between the taliban in afghanistan paid their seven conditions applicable to the taliban and ate with the united states by the taliban did not attack the united states forces which is one of the conditions. it failed to fully honor any other condition under the agreement. perhaps most importantly the
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taliban has never renounced their linkages with al qaeda or broke their affiliation with them. we, the united states, adhere to everyno condition. in the falldo of 2020, my analysis then was that accelerated withdrawal without meeting specific and necessary conditions risk using the substantial gain made in afghanistan with potentially damage worldwide credibility and could precipitate a general collapse the afghan security forces resulting in a complete take order that analysis was a year ago. based on my advice inr the advice of the commanders at the time then secretary of defense recommending we maintain u.s.a forces which were then at 4500 in afghanistan until conditions
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were met a further reduction. two days later on 11 of november i had an unclassified signed order directing the military to withdraw all forces from afghanistan and 15 january 2021. after further discussion with the risks associated with such withdraw the order was rescinded on 17 november it received a new order the troop levels are 2500 plus enabling forces no later than 15 january. proxy 3500 troops 5400 nato and 6300 contractors in afghanistan to assist a small contingent of counterterrorism and the strategic situation was stalemate. biden administration to the national security council process conducted rigorous interagency review the situation in afghanistan a fabric, march, april. during this process the views of all of the joint chiefs of
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staff, all of us the centcom commander u.s. 48 general miller and myself were all given serious consideration of the administration. we provide a broad range of options and our assessment of their potentialal outcomes. we cap setting cost, benefit, risks you force, risk to mission. allut that was evaluated and see national security objectives of the united states. on 14 april the president of the nicest, president biden announced his decision for the u.s. military received a change a of admission to retrograde all u.s. military forces, maintain a small contingency forced of four -- 600 to protect cobble beef until they could contract security support. and also to assist turkey to maintain the international airport and to transition the u.s. mission over the horizon counterterrorism support and security for system.
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it is clear, it is obvious to all of us that the war in afghanistan did not and on the terms that we wanted. the taliban is now in power in kabul. it was on precedent as the largest air evacuation in history was a tactical operation and logistical success of equity 124,000 people. the war it was a strategic failure. i came also at an incredible cost inat the end with 11 marines, one soldier and a navy corpsman. these 13 gave their lives for the people they a never met. given opportunities to live in freedom. we must remedy taliban was and remains a terrorist organization. they still have not broken with al qaeda. i have no illusions who we are dealing with. it remains to be seen whether the taliban can consolidate powerwe or if the country will further fracture into civil
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war. but wewi must continue to protect the united states of america and its people from terrorist attacks from afghanistan. reconstituteis al qaeda or isis with aspirations to attack the united statesat is a very real possibility. and those conditions do include ungoverned spaces could present themselves the next 12 -- 36 months. that meant mission will be much harder now but not impossible. we will continue to protect the american people. strategic decisions has strategic consequences. over the course of fouron presidents, 12 secretaries of defense, seven t chairman, 10-cent, and afghanistan hundreds of congressional delegation visits in 20 years the congressional oversight, there are many lessons to be learned. among those lessons is the unprecedented speed of the collapse one lesson we can never forget is that every soldier, sailor, airmen andf marines who served there for 20 years protected our country
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against attacks from terrorists. for that we all should be forever grateful. and those soldiers should be forever proud. mr. chairman, with your permission i'd like to address a couple comments about my personal contact. that's been in the media recently. >> yes you make. >> i served this nation for 42 years. i spent years in combat and buried many of my troops who died while defending this country. my loyalty to this nation and the constitution is not changed and will never change. not as long as i have a breath to give. my loyalty to the constitution into this nation is absolute. i will not turn my back on my fallen. with respect to the chinese calls i routinely communicate with my counterpart, generally with the knowledge and coordination of civilian oversight. i am specifically directed to communicate with the chinese, by department of defense and
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guidance in the document known as they policy dialogue system for these military to military communications at the highest levels are critical for the security of the united states in order to de- conflict military actions, manage crisis andnd prevent war between great powers armed with nuclear weapons. the calls on 30 october are coordinated before and after the secretary staff and the inter-ec agency was generated by concerning intelligence which caused us to believe the chinese were worried about an attack by the united states. last night i brief that intelligence and details to the senate armed services committee will happy to brief it to any member or group of members in a classified session. and i know i'm certain president trump did not intend on attacking the chinese. it is my directed responsibility for the secretary of defense to convey
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that intent. my task at that time was to de-escalate my message was again consistent calm, steady comic de-escalate were not going to attack you secretary of defense esper's direction i made a call to general lee on 30 october. eight people sat in that call with me and write out the call within 30 minutes of the call ending. on 31 december the chinese requested a call with me. the departments at deputy assistant for asian-pacific policy helped coordinate my call which was then scheduled for eight january. he made a preliminary call on six january. eleven people attended the call with me and readouts of this call were distributed to the inter- agency that same date. on 14 december then acting secretary ofiman defense miller have been briefed on the entire program. shortly after my call ended with generally i informed both secretary of state pompeo and
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white house chief of staff at meadows about the call among several other topics. soon after that i attended a meeting with acting secretary miller will i briefed him on the call. later that same day, on eight january speaker of the house nancy pelosi called me too inquire about the president's ability to launch nuclear weaponsed. i sought to assure her that nuclear launch is governed by very specific and deliberate process. she was concerned i made very personal references characterizing the president. i explained to her the president is the sole nuclear launch authority. but he does not want them alone. and i'm not qualified to determine the mental health of the president of the united states. there are processes protocols and procedures in place i repeatedly assured her there is no chance of an illegal unauthorized or accidental launch of nuclear u weapons.
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the presidential director of the chairman is part of this process to ensure the president is fully informed and determinene the use of the world's deadliest weapons. by law i am not in the chainfo of command and i know that. however my presidential directive and department of defense instruction signed by the present secretaries of defense, i am in the chain of communication to fomite legal statutory role as a presidents primary military advisor. after the speaker post e. coli can lead a short in my office key members of my staff to refresh all of us on these procedures which we practiced three times a day at the action officer level. additionally immediately informed acting secretary defense miller of her call. at no time was i attempting to change or influence the process, usurp authority or insert myself in the chain of command.
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but i am expected to give my advice to ensure the president is fully informed on military affairs. i am submitting for the record and i believe youy have it a couple of memorandums for record in addition to detailed timelines. i'm happy to discuss and either classified or unclassified sessions with any or all of the about my actions running these events. i welcome a thorough walk-through will be happy to provide whatever documents, phone long, memorandums, witnesses or anything you want to help you understand these events. my oath is tone support the constitution of the united states of america against all enemies foreign and domestic i will never turn my back on that oath. i firmly believe in civilian control of the militaries of bedrock principle and essential to the health of this republic i ensure the military stays clear of domestic politics very thank chairman for the extra time look forward to your questions. >> thank you, general mckenzie
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big. >> chairman smith, ranking member rogers distinguish mowers of the committee thank you for the opportunity to testify about recent events in afghanistan. it was a theater commander oak and find my opening remarks to thosee matters that were under my direct operational control. specifically the withdrawal of forces on noncombatant operation. these were two distinct combat both conducted in contact with the enemy. we had a plan for each of them, we executed those plans. thanks the bell and dedication of thousands of men and women in harm's way we completed both missions. fulfilling the president's order to withdraw all u.s. forces and vacuuming over 124,000hd noncombatants from afghanistan. last appeared before this body only days after president biden announced his decision to withdraw all u.s. forces from that country. my testimony regarding that decision is already a matter of public record. i will only reiterate i had an opportunity to offer myi professional device to the president of the secretary.
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i'm confident he weighed it carefully that's all any ask.nder can once a president made his decision, my headquarters and that if u.s. forces afghanistan under general scott miller made the withdrawal of our forces are top priority. we did this in close coordination with the allies and partners. every departure of every element was carefully synchronized across the coalition and with our afghan partners. on no occasion with a caught unaware by our movements. every base was handed off to afghan forces according to mutually agreed plan. many of you have visited at some point over the past 20 years were probably struck by two of its defining features, its sprawling size in this isolation. birches for most of its lifespan they rented it untenable under the circumstances the guidance i received in april was to complete a complete withdrawal of u.s. combat forces and planrc for diplomatic security force absolutely no more than 650 service members.
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it was not feasible to preserve the u.s. embassy in kabul hold and defend the international airport the key link to the outside world and also defend the airfield with six and 50rn soldiers and marines. this is important, the bog run option went away when we were ordered to reduce our presence to six and 50 personnel in kabul. i'd like to shift briefly which i have noted was a completely different operation than the withdrawal. they were separate the withdrawal began in april fung the president's direction. the decision to conduct eight neo rest with the department of state they made that decision on 14 august. enter neo planning central command assumed would have to bring out a very large number of people. we did not regard the size of a potential is overwhelming or too much to accomplish. we did not regard a tele- man take over as inevitable but neither do we rule it out. we identified critical indicators of impending
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collapse of the afghan national defense forces poorly crafted branches to our base plan to account for a complete collapse of the afghan security forces. the secretary took action and may make forces available to me for planning. on july the ninth i requested her base neo force, the court package that would go in, you put on 96 hour prepared to deploy orders spurred by august 11 it was evident to me kabul was at risk i requested the deployment of the 82nd airborne division other elements of her own alert preplanned force package. our request for karzai international air filter these forces flowed swiftly into theater even as the afghan national defense forces disintegrated allowing thousands of civilians access to the airfield. work with afghan partners composed of elite commando units who did not fall apart and our arriving neo forces on august the 16th, we cleared theal air filled and resumed flight operations in a matter
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of hours. with security reestablished by force ultimatee comprising 5084 troopre statement over betimes and hundreds of coalition forces, operations continued without interruption until her final flights. by that time we evacuate over 124,000 people from afghanistan. this was a difficult mission made possible by the exceptional professionalism and valor of the joint force on the ground in afghanistan and across the entire world for v it i would specifically like to use this opportunity to thank the c-17 crews of the air mobility command rivaling and exceeding the berlin airlift. moments after the final by the c-17's lifted off i held a briefing with the pentagon press court and expressed my gratitude andl admiration for the forces are carried out this neo. i provided various figures that convey the magnitude of their accomplishment i will not reiterate those figures here now but i will say that after the passage of nearly a month my pride in their accomplishment remains
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undiminished by do not need to tell this body that on 26 august, 11 marines, one sailor and one soldier made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their country. we will never forget them. thisis was a combat operation of the most difficult sort a noncombatant evacuation carried out in contact with the enemy. the enemy in this case was isis k a phot they would have undoubtedly killed and many, many more americans and manyas afghans if it f were not for the vigilance of our forces m there. on 29 august we had a strike against what we thought was an imminent threat. that strike was a mistake and i take full responsibility for that strike. i was under no pressure from any quarter to conduct the stryker. it was based on intelligence read the situation on the ground. following in many cases we are right with her intelligence and forestalled isis k attacks in this case we were wrong, tragicallyli wrong. i appreciate their many other
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topics of interest to this committee and look forward to answer your questions on all then print out closer by reiterating my profound gratitude and appreciation for everyy soldier, sailor, marine and guardian as well as her intelligence and department of defense and state comrades who contributed to each of these difficult missions. i remained humbled by their sense of duty and courage, thank you. >> thank you, mr. secretary went to drill down a little bit on keeping 2500 troops there. i'm struck as i listen to the commentsee per think the real problem is you have to make decisions of the real world. you do not get to imagine an outcome that would make it more palatable. i think that is what really factored into the 2500. as we talk about the 13 service members who died and attacked at leadership for not having prevented that, how can you do that and advocate we should have stayed in afghanistan longer so that more service members. i guess the only way you can
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advocate that is to imagine a scenario whereby we could have stayed in a chaotic war zone, not head soldiers get killed. not have made any mistakes but how you cannot make mistakes in that chaotic environment i don't know. and every member serving under these committee has been in those environmentsen them away or another. you do not have the luxury of waving a magic wand and making the the problems go away it's really frustrating to hear people advocate sayingo we should stay and still decry what happened. to think fighting inec a war zone there would not be similar mistakes if we stayed there for another five or ten years, more civilians killed accidentally, more service members dead in exactly the same way we saw? : : accidentally, more :be let me be clear that i
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support the president's decision. and the process we usedn to provide input to the president i think that process was a very thorough and inclusive policy process.s. and the recommendations of the commanders were taken into consideration and deliberated throughout that process. as you indicated, i will always keep my recommendations confidential.
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there was no risk-free status quo or option. it would be clear that if we stayed there longer we were going to re- convince attacks on the forces. you would have to deploy more forces to protect themselves and accomplish any omissions we misd have been assigned. sadly that did not happen. >> let me also say i know that there are members of this committee who think we should have stayed who were honest about that. he's been very honest that we should have i stayed and is very honest about the fact that there are costs and risks. that's theye type of discussion that we need to have.
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but to jump down the president's throat because he had to make the decision an impossible situation i think does a grave disservice to the ability to do effective and honest nonpartisan oversight. costs were going to be born. there was no easy option and i do hope that people remember that as we go through the questions and answers and with that i will yield to the ranking member. was the dod in charge of making decisions about the ranks in this withdrawal? >> let me put it this way. let me go back even further.
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in january of this year, were you of the opinion in your pre- visionary judgment that i should have maintained 2500 u.s. troops and support coalition efforts and contractors in afghanistan? >> my assessment remained -- >> did that professional military opinion change over the course of the next few months? >> not until the presidential decision and i rendered my opinions and it was a wholesome debate on all of that and once decisions are made i'm expected to execute lawful order. >> so my question is when the troop orders were down to zero in the first stopping at 650 as the general outline, was that your decision or general mckenzie's decision to draw down? >> it was a task and task analysis to go to zero but you
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also have to defend the embassy. >> somebody's making decisions about troop'm levels and my understanding is if it was not the dod,, if it was the state department or the white house i want to know who said we were going from 2500 to 650 and protect the state department. >> 6700 could adequately defend the embassy until the contracts come up and that was approved. >> who made the decision? >> i would say the decision was made in a national security consultative process but the highest levels of the government. did you receive advice at the end of 2021 related to the troop levels in afghanistan?
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>> ranking member, i did. his view and my view were essentially the same. we also needed to work at about 6,000 troops with nato and other countries that would remain. >> did your provisional military opinion change? >> it did not. >> did you communicate well? were you present in the room and the recommendations. they were debated fully and i felt my opinion was heard with a great thoughtfulness by the president. >> secretary austin made the point of the pros and cons and costs and risks yet in august of
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this year president biden told george stephanopoulos no one said that to me, referring to keeping 2500 troops in afghanistan. what did you decide at that time? >> we decided to proceed with the retrograde. >> my orders come from the secretary defense so it is a very short chain of command for
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me. to conduct safe, orderly and responsible withdrawal and were executing that plan. august 18th the president said the idea that somehow there was going to be a way we could have gotten out with chaos ensuing i don't know how that happens. between those discrepancies in congress and with the president is telling us. >> in terms of the withdrawal of the troops and the retrograde of equipment, that plan has developed was executed as planned and all of the equipment was retro graded and we drew down the p force we wanted to dw down to that a very small force that you saw at the embassy at the very end. but the chaos that ensued followed the collapse of the military and the collapse of the
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government. when those two things happen, then it was going to be a chaotic situation. >> and the collapse of the government and the military was so irresponsible of this administration. i know you are trying to be careful but it was the state department and white house that told you to make those withdrawal troops. it was a speed with which they could have gotten that order. just what caused the chaos if they had allowed the dod to be in a command situation we wouldn't have had this problem. they hadad to draw down the tros to keep hamid karzai. we have to admit this was the state department and white house that caused this. ie. will yield back, mr. chairm.
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my constituents and i have a lot of questions about the planning that led up to this and i will admit that i am concerned based on the conditions on the ground recommended against the withdrawal i wish the administration had been more thoughtful. i have yett to hear the answer why did we not start withdrawing the american citizens sooner? we knew we were going to be withdrawing in january or may or sooner than the actual execution. given the concerns about pushing theen withdrawal back in the criteria and the agreement to ensure that we did the handoff
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correctly. we already were not going to fully withdraw by may of 2021. when they are not the strongest in the fighting season as opposed to waiting until the winter months when there is more of a fighting season so relatively low. >> and i'm sorry, we are going to stick to the five minute rule so we are going to move on to other people. go ahead. >> thank you, sir. on the issue of why we didn't bring out civilians the call on how to do that is a state
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department call. as i said to the state department, their concerns were rightfully they were being cautioned by the administration that if they withdrew citizens and applicants at a pace that was too fast it would cause a collapse of the government that we were trying to prevent so i think thatit went into the calculus and when you add also the process was at that point very slow, deliberate and not very responsive. with your help we were able to curtail the time it took to work through that process but a number of things came together to cause what happened to
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happen. but they had a number ofere this to go through as well. in the summer versus waiting until the next year a number of things went into his decision calculus. but as we came on board, the agreement that had been made as we were going to depart by may 1. we were able to work to get more time so we could conduct a deliberate and safe and orderly retrograde but again the decision we would leave in the summer versus the next year. i will leave it at that, sir.
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i wonder now how we protect the country going forward. the director and secretary defense said the national security threatened by the taliban takeover. one of the missions was to prevent a haven for terrorist groups and i quote we failed in that mission. similarly the director has assessed that al qaeda could threaten the homeland in one to two years, so i agree it could be effective. however id am concerned without that complementary operation it would be insufficient to keep us safe. are you confident to mitigate what we face i'm confident we can invest the haven and how we keep the country safe and i apologize for the gentleman's timeme is expired.
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to keep the troops in afghanistan and tell every american citizen was able to leave this a did not happen. nor can we concerned the claim. also the truth of the claim that no military commander recommended leaving behind a residual force even n though all of you starting courageously with scott miller have made it clear that the military advice was to do so. august 206th i requested all letters referenced that day from the military commanders advising him on the afghanistan withdraw but haven't seen a response. immediately skeptical, president biden left behind thousands of
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american citizens green card holders and reporters that worked in the united states. biden was correct when he said the buck stops with him as the person responsible for afghanistan as well as for the terrorists that are now crossing the southern border to plan attacks on american neighborhoods and the u.s. allies in afghanistan under the complete control of the television, a barbaric terrorist organization as the general has confirmed. the move has gone from afghanistan to american neighborhoods equally endangering our allies. mr. secretary, even before the withdraw there were reports of
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americans and green card holders being turned away at the gates of the airport while others were sending their special forces into kabul to retrieve the citizens andir bring them to the airport, you repeatedly refused to do the same even after promising at a pentagon press conference on august 18 that we are going to get everyone we can possibly to evacuate and i will do that as long as like can until the clock runs out or if we run out of capability. mr. secretary, the public needs to know did the clock run out where did you run out of capability or at any point asked president biden for more time or support to enable the forces to complete the full evacuation of the citizensr of not leaving thm behind us promised. what is the response? >> first of all, thank you for your personal service in the
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military and for the service of the family members. on the issue of evacuating american citizens and holders, this work continues on. we are not finished and we will make sure that we stay focused on this to get out every american citizen that wants to leave and has the right credentials to be able to leave. on the issue of the security at the airport, it was my assessment and i remain convinced of this that the risk to the mission and force was beyond significant. and had we stayed there much longer, we would have endured continued attacks by isis and potentially the taliban. as each day went forward, as the risk increased, we stood to have
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aircraft shot down and additional people injured, so as we wait out the risks -- >> mr. sec., i need to have this completed and in fact i will be sending questions for the record and i really want to know how many americans have been left behind. so we will get that to -- i will be providing questions for the record but i believe american families today are at a greater risk of attacks at home than ever before. in history we are a greater risk. suicide bombers can operate from the safe haven just as 9/11 and with the open southern borders. the example of o may 8th, mass murder of over 80 girls have not been forgotten. the buck stops with murdered marines. mr. biden --
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>> i don't have a speech to launch into questions right now so get ready to f answer them. with regards to the november 11 order, who was on that order? >> former president trump. >> there were two lines for the forces from somalia. second sentence was the withdrawal of u.s. military forces from afghanistan so i
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went over and spoke to the white house and we discussed the cost risk benefit for that order. >> was that the first time in the last 20 years they withdrew plans and held orders at all in the last 20 years from afghanistan? >> absolutely as you know. i'm talking about zero they
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asked for a withdrawal to zero just trying to get the time set up for general mckinsey about the 2500 recommendation. was that a particular set of missions and did those missions change therefore. we are looking about a force with limited assistance at a high level with management for the afghans but it would have been functioning at high levels and that is the force we wanted to continue on the ground as we looked at going down to 650 you get a force that is almost
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exclusively built for the air airfield for logistics and by that, i mean, a package comes in and you get them over to the afghans and have no way to track what happened. we lost that capability. >> but based on the leadership saying this is what the civilian leadership wants to do. i'm not arguing this point, you make the recommendations giving your besthi advice and it has te opportunity to say thank you but here is what i would rather be doing. >> that is absolutely correct. so, the mission changed. >> the mission fundamentally changed. going to zero you will reduce your capability to do any kind of on the ground work even at a truncated level with afghan forces. from the highest levels of
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government and you won't have any visibility about what's going on on the ground. the order is an accelerated withdrawal by the 15th of january so different -- >> thank you very much. what are the capabilities and specifically how do we execute those and i want to explore that a little bit more today. >> ioi will be prepared to talk about it i would offer that
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briefing by general mckinsey along with the joint staff representation. we will definitelyd be following up on that. mr. turner is recognized. i serve on both the house armed services committee and the intelligence committee has already been briefed for their participation on the attack. you've taken in front of us full responsibility forig that. i have a series of information i would like released so we can provide oversight to what occurred on august 209th. what we know from the prior
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statement is you didn't know who was in the car, whose house it was or who or how many people were in the house. this concerns me as we look at the claims of its ability for counterterrorism. you did not as your goal was stateded to disrupt the attack u killed in an innocent man and an attack didn't happen so there are concerns about the information and the execution that occurred. the protocols in place prior to this mission, the intelligence were eminent including approvals for delegation a of authority ad putting targeted engagement authority in the administration and the date of the secretary released i want to make sure
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does not stop congressional oversight. a list ofsending those and want your consent you will be providing those. they are in the jurisdiction of our committees. correct.e there is a review going on. >> thank you, mr. secretary. >> with indignation in front of the house and the senate, you've commented on the statements in the press concerning your phone conversation with your counterparts. let's be clear to give you some help p those comments were in because that's where you put them. now you claim you had information and its worried about an imminent attack. you did not tell the president and vice president, the white house chief of staff, national security advisor, sec. defense, secretary of state, director of
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nnational intelligence, eitherf the committees in the house. by the way it's never been true in my lifetime and it may be true since they believed it that's why they are digging faster than they can fill them but you chose instead to handle it yourself with a phone call so i'm going to request that you provide that to us and i would like you to provide the relevant information you based on your belief that china had an imminent attack and i also want your request for the declassification of the approval that you released that information and believed so including the request for the declassification of your
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conversation with general lee. i also want any readouts and memorandumum of outcomes. you chose to talk to reporters us and that is of great concern. no one knew one of the major powers thought that they were perhaps being threatened. if they were subject to an attack by the united states as a member of the president's cabinet do you believe that information should be handled at the cabinet level and with the national security advisor and sec. defense do you think the intel and foreign affairs committee need to know these were the belief against russia
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and china is appropriately handled by the chair in a phone call with one of those nations. please tell me that you believe it elevates to the level that you would elevate that to the cabinet and the congress and not just have e it be subsequently told to us all by newspaper articles in the "washington post" and "the new york times" as a general millie chose to do. his chain of command was the where of the actions.
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he made a very direct attack as the time was expiring andd i'm going to violate the rules a little bit. that intelligence
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memorandum. thank you to the witnesses for your service and testimony today. one comment before questions over the last month we heard a lot of in my opinion over the top claims that they lost credibility with its allies in the wake of the withdrawal from afghanistan australia was proud to go into afghanistan together and leave together and heartfelt
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terms thank the united states particularly one soldier from couple. it's how grateful i am for the amazing work of the military in helping us extricate the british nationals from couple to who o e owe debts of gratitude. they were heroic. a powerful reminder that american security guarantee with our allies in the stroke of a pen and in collaboration with the region that the national nationaldefense strategy has idd the number a one priority i want
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to follow on the drone strike. you also that day announced there's going to be a dod the investigation that you described. >> a three-star review as the incident and take into account all the things general mckinsey and his team have done but the soup to nuts policy procedures where we follow our own
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practices and outlined practices and we will look at accountability if somebody should be held accountable for something they did that is outside of standard practice we will take a look at that. >> the department is exploring the possibility of the payments as compensation that is a 3 million-dollar set aside in the operation that has used in the past however despite those civilians that were killed there were no payments last year we have a significant responsibility and even as we speak right now the
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undersecretary defense is engaged in finding the best way to move forward on the appropriate payment and whatever other measuresy may be contemplated and i will just leave it at that. >> that certainly is a high-volume concern in my district. the same experience questioned in commitment to the nation. in your testimony you talked again about the agreement and conditions put into place for the taliban to perform and only one out of the eight complied with and 80% of the troops were drawing down from the date of
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the agreement to january 201st. the predicament that this administration has left when it took office with just a fraction of the troop level in 2020. you get the numbers for the inauguration but the bottom line is the nationwide cease-fire and others. >> we have repeatedly expressed concern that the u.s. military does not have regional basing cooperation for an effective over the horizon counterterrorism capability. in may in response to my question confirmed the administration had not yet secured the agreements.
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has the administration as of today secured any necessary h agreements with a neighboring country to provide the basing and overflight requirements needed to perform over the horizon operations in landlocked afghanistan? >> as of today i have the opportunity in the missions. we don't have an agreement with the neighboring country. at the june 203rd hearing you testified to the committee that bob graham wasn't necessary
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will send necessarytactically ty withdrawal plan. you n dismiss my and other concerns about the military value and seem to base that on an assessment that at that point they had not taken major districts. you told senator blackburn one of the courses of action you provided the commander-in-chief was to keep the base open the sounds different from what you told us january 203rd but the arbitrary cap of 650. once the decision was made in mid april and we changed the mission to go to zero and bring the troops down to a number that was required to maintain embassy, the bob graham decision was made at that point because at that point there's no way to
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divide but one additional point, most of the people that were required were going to come out of couple. as scotty miller, general miller already testified to, itbe wille the center of gravity for any. but wewe didn't have the forces available to do both what would that give during the withdrawal had that been in play? >> i would have needed to push 5,000 more troops on the ground so that would have been a significant decision and we were under the direction to go to zero so it would require a basic policy directive to change the plan. if you're going to zero to hold
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your embassy it is incompatible so that is a policy decision to hold under that case. let me further add if i didn't see any tactical utility. they addressedca the best mility opinionn and advice to quickly withdraw american troops from afghanistan. >> it's been my view ime recommended a level of 2,500 that would have allowed us to hold bug rum and other airfields as well. it's no longer feasible. >> but that is the best of opinion and advice. >> that remains my view now as it was then. >> you said it would have taken 2500 a minute ago. it sounds like it was 2500.
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>> if you are talking about a situation you s are not fighting the taliban andat have the full assistance of the government or the tele- bans attacks against, yes you can hold it at 2500. if however say beyond august 201st without the agreement of the taliban who provided most then you have to put a big footprint in as we did. thank you so much for your testimony. before i go any further, i want to acknowledge the extraordinary effort and successful efforts made by the u.s. military particularly the air force and the most awesome andnd successfl
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evacuation of civilians ever in the history of this world. well done, very well done and complements to all involved. obviously the loss of the 13 members in the military. it was a great tragedy. and you and all of us regret that. it's only repeated by the fog of the committee so let me lay out some time frames. in may the 2018 the former president ordered formally a direct u.s. taliban negotiations without the afghan government participating. in february, 2020, excuse me, august 2019 president trump said he would withdraw all the troops as quickly as possible in february 2020 the united states and taliban signed a formal agreement in which the united states committed to withdrawal its troops and non-diplomatic civilian personnel from
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afghanistan no later than may 1st, 2021. in june of 2020 the troop levels reached 8600 and in october, the former president tweeted we should have the small number of remaining bravere men and women serving in afghanistan home by christmas. insm november 17, 2020, then acting secretary defense miller announced we will implement the former presidents orders to continue repositioning forces from afghanistan and the 2500 u.s.rc troops that remain therey january 15. on january 15, he announced there were indeed a 2500 left. on january 20th, biden became president. april 14th announcing the intention to continue the
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withdraw by september 11. july 2nd we have had specific testimony on what then happened from july 17 on and if i recall correctly, the afghan government completely collapsed on the 20th of august. and from there, the evacuations commenced. and we held the 2500 which i stated is my position.
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however that would give the platform to continue the negotiations to the taliban. and if we be went below than the afghan military and the governmentce would collapse and that is ine fact what happened o we haveld objective data what happens if you go to zero. several of us attended a luncheon hearing in the capital and late june with president afghan he and abdullah and they were very confident that they would be able to maintain their government with the reduction and withdrawal of american troops if they said 300,000
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needed continued financial support and necessary intelligence from the united states and they also needed to have certain airstrikes, drone strikes. that was their promise. they also said that they did not want to allow afghans to leave. that's what they specifically told us. they didn't want afghans to leave. obviously decided that he would leave. my time is expired. i will yield back thanks for your testimony today. i want to begin with you and build on a question that the ranking member rogers asked. august 18th, president biden said there's no way possible that u.s. troops could be withdrawn from afghanistan
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without the chaos that we saw unfold,. >> the retro grade of the troops everybody is talking about, that was completed by mid july and was done without any significant incident andhe that is bringing out a lot of equipment et cetera. the operation is different under conditions and we inserted 6,000 troops on relatively short notice i think the first two days were not only chaotic but violent and high risk so i think it would c have been difficult
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underll any circumstances and ty performed well in 48 hours getting control of an airfield in another country but i understand you're talking about a compressed timeframe. i'm talking about in totality we are looking at a chaotic and disaggregated effort. it seems like to me your professional military judgment would probably not have been focused in seeing this outcome. it was flatlined at about 2500 for the negotiated solution so it's conditions based and we all render our advice and presidents make decisions and then we execute. >> this morning you stated it
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was a e logistical success but a strategic failure. i would say probably american citizens and the special visa holders would probably disagree those that were left behind would disagree with your assessment of the success. that being said i want to focus on the strategic failure aspect you said yesterday all you could do is provide your best advice to make the ultimate decision. did theen decisions because this strategic failure? >> i am not going to judge a president, that is the job of the american people. >> your best military judgment. >> my assessment is o it is a 20 year war and it wasn't lost to the last 20 days or 20 months for that matter. it was a cumulative effect of decisions that go way back. bin laden for example we knew
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where he was, the thousand meters away, could have ended it right there. the shift from going into iraq and pulling all the troops out of afghanistan with an exception not effectively dealing with a sanctuary, major issue we have to really unpack. the intelligence, three or four years ago so we blinded ourselves our ability to see the leadership. there's a whole series of decisions that take place. i don't think when you get a phenomenon like a war that is lost and it has been in the sense of protecting america against al qaeda but certainly the end state is different than we want to do so whenever a phenomenon like that happens i will have to figure it out. there's a lot of lessons learned. >> i want to build with your answers to secretary alston. i imagine you had a number of opportunities as the general and
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i imagine vice president biden was purveyed of these. was he a regular attendee he whenyou gave these briefs? would you recognize that is the beginning of the weakness and were there issues at that point of intense interest that's going to have to be a question for the record because the time is expired. thank you for your service. i want to set the record straight on a couple of points. it was in 2017 then president trump relaxed the rules of engagement and there was a
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massive increase in civilian casualties. compared to the previous ten years, there was a 95% increase in civilian deaths. it was then president trump who in mid-2018 ordered the taliban without the afghan leadership and it was in february, 2020 when the formal agreement was made. you identified the taliban as a terrorist organization. can you tell us anything about former president trump's intent to invite the leadership to the united states or camp david specifically? >> i have no personal knowledge of that invitation.
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secretary alston did the previous administration develop plans for a withdrawal and was there any handoff on those plans? >> there was no handoff for the withdraw. so then president trump calls for a total withdraw by may 1st, 2021. i would say i'm confident general miller who was anticipating a decision one way or another was making plans and i certainly would defer to general mckinsey in terms of what he might have done in terms of handoff. is it not true that on april 207th, president biden through the state department
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called on all americans in afghanistan to leave by commercial flights, can any of you answer that question? >> i don't have knowledge of that. >> we put on notice april 207th it was time to get out. let me ask you this what was the impact of the d drawdown to 2500 troops despite the taliban'she noncompliance with much of the peace agreement and how did that affect our intelligence gathering? because of the nature and this is more 2020 hindsight we now believe the agreement is self contributes the money and the morale of the bilateral
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agreement but having said that there were conditions one of which was met and many were not and the drawdown to 2500 proceeded because of the fundamental condition they were not attacking us. the drawdown in 2500 and the impact that had on the morale and the will of the military i believe is a negative impact but i don't know you that yet. we need to go through and analyze it in an after action review for the morale of the afghan security forces. there's been a lot of talk about retaining the servicemembers in afghanistan. i think we all forget that there was a negotiation with the taliban and we would have to get them to agree to allow 2500 troops to w remain in the count. having said that, in your view with a small force of 2500 would that beha sufficient to achieve
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anything of value? >> i think the 2500 would have been a great risk to reinitiate the combat operations or attacks on u.s. forces and 2500 would have been an increase to that. it has as much a to do with the morale and having the morale of the security forces demonstrating confidence in the government. going to zero it's clear to me we have to unpack from the military side is the imaging and development of the military. acthey became dependent -- >> i apologize. the gentle ladies time is expired. >> it is imperative that weme he this hearing today because the withdraw from afghanistan is the most significant foreign policy
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failure in a generation and ramifications for years to come so we need to get to the bottom of this. first i'm going to start off with a question that you made a comment earlier that i wanted to ask you. did you tell the general when you talked to him on the phone that if we were going to tag china that you were going to let him know ahead of time? >> [inaudible] could you get the microphone a little more in front of you? this is a longer conversation and there is a body of intelligence that leads up to
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this that was persuasive that the chinese thought they were going to protect them. i am guaranteed a certain president trump had no intent and it was my task to make sure that i communicated that and the purpose was to de-escalate -- >> you shared all that earlier. did you or did you not tell him that if we were going to attack you would let him know? >> as part of the conversation i said there isn't going to be a war or attack between great powers and if there was the tension what build up with all kinds of officials. we are not going to attack you, trust me. i'm doing my best to transmit the president trump's intent so they are protected from an incident that could escalate.
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>> are you articulating that you would tell him, you would give him a call is worthy of your resignation. i think that's against our country that you would give our number one adversary that information and tell him that. but i'd like to go on to general austin and ask a question. ... >> abandoned bob from airbase
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in july the taliban quickly took over the base and released between five and 7000 isis-k prisoners when they evacuate from afghanistan august is demonstration he and over total government control to the taliban another terrace from the de facto government. andf the taliban is deemed education irrelevant. women and girls have been barred from school andca work and committed horrific retaliatory attacks of the afghan security forces and interpreters and established suicide bomber schools within c the country. we also note that al qaeda and isis-k has we established a presence within the country. even before the r us withdrew the claimed credit for suicide bombings. which took the lives of 13 servicemembers on august 23rd.
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so is it true that suicide bombers attacked the kabul airport was a cia prisoner at the bog room air days that the taliban released after the biden administration left bog room in july? >> let me say a couple of things, first by the president selected me or nominated me to be the secretary of defense you have to certainly go back to the president ask him specifically why he did that but i'm sure it was not solely based upon with the oversight of the evacuation of iraq but i would point to there is a government in iraq right now that is holding elections, the united states military is in iraq. >> i have four seconds resume questionon? >> the gentle ladies time is expired. >> i will take the question for the record. >> thank you. >> i don't see eye to eye with
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generals and we have had disagreements but what was said earlier and then to get general million opportunity to respond and if not i will probably consider my questions. >> i will not tip off with an actual plan but to persuade an adversary that is heavily armed that is clearly unambiguously with intellect one —-s intelligence reports very nervous about our behavior inside this country and they were concerned that president trump would launch an attack he was not going to launch an attack i knew he would launch an attack n at the direction of secretary of defense i engaged the chinese to persuade them to do that. i would never tip off any enemy to anything we would do
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that is a different context than a conversation spent thank you draw three witnesses to testify today it is devastating and difficult to watch but that reality after 20 years for us presidents and billions of dollars the peaceful conditions cannot be created that's why president biden made the right decision to withdraw a prolonged and stalled conflict would require more troops and resources butre no clear timeline. i don't believe we canit ask our servicemen and women to give permission in the end would have been successful. and with the y american citizens and our allies and afghan citizens and everyone threatened by the taliban and it's morelieve imperative to help those in afghanistan to do everything in our power to continue to do that. i have some questions to begin
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with. general, the speed and scale and scope of the afghan army was a surprise. but it was with june and july with the arrival before the arrival in kabul. but also those operations across the globe what are specific do think it's time for larger in the department of how to assess in the rapidly and changing environment? >> i don't know the full answer yet but the primary reason we missed it is we essentially cannot and have yet to develop an effective technique to read people's hearts leadership skills are intangibles so very difficult to measure when we pull our advisors off organizations at lower levels you start missing that fingertip touch we can
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count the trucks and the guns in the units and all of that from different techniques but we cannot measure human heart from the machine you have to do that and it's one of the most significant contributor factors to missing the deterioration of the morale of thee afghan army. >> it's one of the things i am deeply disturbed by so speaking to a lot of servicemembers that are interested at for decades go in and out of afghanistan , they were always telling me something extremely different from what i was getting from reports of many generals here that the afghan army was not ready and would not be sustainable on their own. how did we miss that? those 20 -year-olds where predicting this but yet am of the greatest minds on the
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civilian side and the uniform size mistress? and that's what concerns me becauseis that's what afghanistan has done because we will be engaging all over the world and y then repeated could be the extensional threat to the national security of the united states. >> i think that is a reasonable criticism we have to look at how we actually remain connected to the people who are at the advisory level. i'm something i'm conflicted byn as well. but we will certainly take a look at because i offer the same strain myself it's harder to get the truth we need to look at ways to those that are best conveyed i will accept that criticism. >> thank you mr. chairman i
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need your help fairly immediately on two issues one cannot be discussed in the setting that the other can and there are 145 afghan air force personnel flying 16 aircraft tanow september 29 we need to get them out they trained with us and fought with us and did everything we asked of them and we have gotten no assistance at all from the state department to move them and i am asking all three of you for your help to address the issue y secretary austin, we need the help. >> acknowledged, sir and we will get with state right away to see if we can move this forward i share your concerns. >> thank you and i do want to
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mention this for the frustration of every member of the committee comes in, we have people and is pakistan the state department ignore them as well and said they would get tome them when they got to them but we have a leader on —- a lady that assignments pregnant and we need help removing them we also need to make it clear that it is us military equipment and not to be returned to afghanistan i would appreciate it if we can put that in writing to both of those countries that the equipment belongs to the us and not afghanistan. with that said i appreciate your commitment i do want to mention one thing secretary state department we are using
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the number 124,000 it is us and nato allies. >> that's correct. >> we provided a list of names people to central command and everybody we needed to get it to and yet our people were not allowed inside. there at the gates but not allowed even though they were on the manifest but yet so many people came out of the country that appeared not to be on the manifest. so how was the determination made and who got on the plane and who didn't get on the plane? >> i cannot speak to the exact processes that existed inside at the time in terms of how
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people were sorted out. i can tell you that we tried very hard to get everybody we possibly could out, especially american citizens and applicants that work with us. we also over to our partners to help them get their people out as well and they helped us with some security issues and other things while we were there. >> i will tell you i do think that's a question that will linger and the committee wants answers because we have those that were left behind and other people that were not or should not have been on the manifest that seem to have gotten out. >> we will continue to work to get out as many as we can in the last 48 hours we brought out an additional 63 americans citizens and 169 legal
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permanent residents. >> general mckenzie answered a lot of the questions in the written testimony. you did say in april is when you were given a change of mission. what date in april was that? >> mid april. >> when did we inform our partner forces we had a change of mission and we were going to retrograde from the 2500 down at 650 quick. > that is a process that reach it may have taken a couple days for that process but it was not kept. >> with the 615 included in the $2500 that in addition. >> that is a different capability. >> it is a total of 3150?
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>> know when we went from 2500 down to the effective zero we said we would keep 650. >> your time has expired. >> but the capabilities were different forces to do different things. >> crucial point. recognize. is >> general milley and secretary austin. why have you not started the evacuation of our allies wh already? you responded we have a moral imperative to save the afghans at work by our side. secretary austin you said today moving to sod with the evacuation would put ourin troops at risk. i want to know what you did personally, all three of you between june 23rd hearing and august 15 when kabul fell to me that moral imperative. i will take that for the record that you believe you did enough?
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>> ile do we provided advice necessary. >> i thank you heard me say in my opening comments that we engaged state early on to provide input to the decision-making process of when to move the siv. >> i understand you said the state department followed the advice to take out siv would precipitate a government collapse yet the vast majority were not even working for esso the government anymore because they supported a force up to 100,000 us troops over 20 years we only had 2500 troops left so why on earth did you trust president donnie - - president ghani? it wasn't my decision i had input but it is not as if i was influenced by president ghani. >> you said this repeatedly
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the state responsibility what responsibility do you have for the afghans who stood shoulder to shoulder with our troops how many do you commit to a getting out by the end of the year quick. >> have responsibility to get out as many as i can over time. how many do i committ to getting out? everyone that i can. >> there are reports that dod reduced airstrikes as early as may when troops are d just beginning to withdraw and had to ramp a backup after the taliban gained ground also reports you sent and with the taliban leadership in august instead of the taliban fighters went inside the circle, they would be hit with us airstrikes. so why did you let up on the taliban at the beginning of may and then at the end of the withdraw and argue august we should then hitting them harder giving them time to evacuate quick. >> that report about me meeting with the taliban coming inside the 30-kilometer
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circle is factually incorrect. in may as for the rest of the redeployment. we continue strikes onn the taliban o those however were limited to support of afghan forces in close combat we were not streaking deep or have a tremendous amount of resources compared to what we have in the past while effective with certain tactical situations at no time was enough to change that strategic calculus of the campaign. >> general mckenzie went from down 650 troops in july then put 5000 back into kabul. you said repeatedly personally believe the afghan government would fall if we a did not maintain a certain number of troops in country so why didn't you plan y for evacuation and leave enough troops on the ground to conducted quick. >> let's be very clear theed evacuation is order by the department of state the drawdown of forces was ordered by the president in april completed in july the
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noncombat operation is a separate mission under completely under control. >> you fall back on the bureaucracy between dod. >> i will fall back on the orders that i received, representative. >> secretary austin you presided in part over the withdrawal of forces from iraq at times you requested more troops on the ground two years later we have thousands of troops and backim into iraq do you believe you'll ever have to send troops back into afghanistan? >> i certainly will engage in a hypothetical but i will say obviously that is a decision has to be made by the president and while in will not rule anything out i would say it is not preordained that we would go back or have to go back into afghanistan again but if we do the military will provide good credible options to do that and to be effective.
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>> you and your predecessors ask those in afghanistan thousands died now you keep saying our troops should be proud of that but here is a question sent to me by one of those soldiers and in 20 years troops on the ground never lost a single battle yet we lost the war. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> what is left to be proud of? >> we are trying to run a meeting if you a wanted to read the letter you should have read in the first five minutes when you had time. that is something we need to hear and should have heard the five minutes that you had. the gentlest time has expired appearing virtually you are recognized for five minutes. >> chairman smith in first i'm honored and privileged to represent the homeless are the
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most a play division since 9/11 want to take this opportunity to thank every soldier every service man and woman after the past two decades and this is forever grateful for your service and sacrifice. i want to direct my question on the panel today about the evacuation and force protectionon efforts after army card karzai airport as they came in before and after the suicide bombing at the airport. >> representative, first of all the key part of our defense at the airport i certainly appreciate the contribution. force protection is something we balanced all the time against the requirement to let people be processed and get on the airplanes we look at that every day and those two things
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are intention we have to balance them every day we have over 300 credible intelligence reports of isis-k plans to attack the airport it turns out they could carry one successful suicide vest attack also launching rockets and other attacks weci could factor taliban elements to prevent or perhaps the taliban could prevent those from what they establish but force protection is a key being throughout the entire operation and we thought the risk was very high principally from isis-k and i will pause there. >> we are dependent upon the taliban for security to get the evacuees and americans behind enemy lines into the airport did the united states or coalition forces provide many any form of payment or assistance to the taliban to
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expedite as the security environment deteriorated? >> no we did not. what we did was asked the taliban to establish 1 kilometer be each gate reduce the number of people coming down and showing up at the gatesum data that they were not compensated or rewarded in any way for that it was a very pragmatic businesslike discussion i don't trust the taliban not been and not now that's how we approached it. >> i just want to get this on record in addition to general mckenzie's answer so there was no form of payment for coalition forces at any time during the evacuation to the taliban quick. >> to my knowledge there was none.
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>> i have no knowledge of any money transmitted from any element of the united states government to the taliban. >> we are 20 years from be attacks on 9/11 and obviously i am from the state of new york and it is a very solemn occasion but particularly nearly one —- new yorkers every year as we commemorate i would like to get your assessment is the terrorist threat from afghanistan greater today or lesser than it was pre- 9/11? >> right this minute is lesser than it was 9/11 but the conditions are set were could be set i said it many times that the conditions could be set for a reconstitution of al qaeda and isis and i gave some specific times in my statement and i stand by those it is a real possibility in the not-too-distant b future with
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that timeframe and it is our job now with different conditions to continue too protect american citizens against attacks from afghanistan. >> i agree with general that al qaeda has been degraded over time now terrorist organizations seek ungoverned spaces so they can train and equip and thrive. so there is clearly a possibility that can happen here going forward. our goal is to maintain a laserlike focus so it doesn't happen. >> i apologize your lady has expired are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chair. thank you to all of our witnesses that are here today. i want to start by saying one
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of the things i like about this committee we are pretty bipartisan every once in a while the partisan beast comes oute,. happens from both sides of the aisle. the administration from the other party not in power is often times depending on what perspective you come to it one is doing everything wrong and it's important to shed light to be irrespective of the partisanship and one can argue the agreement that president trump reached with the terrace taliban february 2020 was less than perfect and we should collect that from both sides of the aisle and we can also argue that the exit from the
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withdrawal was less than perfect. i can't say that i supported the trump administration and biden administration in its goal to withdraw from afghanistan. but again it has been less than perfect. so for me i went to shed a little bit of light to refresh some of the memory on the numbers going back. so general millie, white one —- it went to make sure i understand our troop level since the delhi agreement with the taliban, signed by president trump between february 2020 when the agreement with the taliban was signed through january 2021. how many troops to the united states withdraw from afghanistan how many were withdrawn 2017 through january
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2021? >> 12600 us troops when the agreement was signed on that day. 12600 us troops. on february 2,028,008 oh 10500 contractors and those are oparticularly important. on inauguration day am showing 3500 us troops that is the 2500 advisers and then additional 3500 us troops 5400 nato and 6300 contractors in afghanistan on that day. >> i only draw attention to that with the 20 years in afghanistan the united states
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special inspector general reconstruction that united states spent $83 billion equipping and training the afghan national defense and security which included almost $10 billion in aircraft and vehicles. we saw therc unexpected and appalling rate of how quickly the afghan military folded under pressure from the taliban. and then to have security cooperation, operations going forward, andnd what aspects of train and equip efforts you think the department should reassess? >> i think we should reassess everything, soup to nuts we put in that effort to provide the afghans of the great capability or at the end of
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the day that capability because the security forces fractured on —- fractured and evaporated need to look at ourselves to see what we did and if that is the right thing to dono going forward. >> in my view with the security forces we have to guard against. beginning with the afghan army with a success stories the commandos with a special forces in the rough writer army. and the second point is the police force and the germans went to make that. and with that air support and to avoid dependency on us four. >> your time is expired. >> .
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>> i've had so many questions come from constituents there's no way we can get through in five minutes but let's jump right in. general, with bagram in your professional militaryla baopinion, which facility bagram airfield would be most efficient of the evacuation? >> there is a reason for that. the vast majority of those personnel we expected were located in kabul. point number two, we were directed to maintain an embassy open also the international zone for the others we have to do it because bagram would have been a prospect require exceptional levels of resources to do that. >> all of you testified yesterday it wasn't a matter
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of if the afghan army would taliban would take over but a matter of when. so billions of dollars in equipment to be left behind has been under much scrutiny. knowing they would fail why were more steps not taken to secure that military equipment or destroy it? now it is a well-equipped taliban army. >> theli number is a big number 84 billion included. >> i understand that let's go to the equipment left behind. aircraft, am wrap, weapons when you knew they would fail? >> the other type thing i would say all of the equipment that we hado and we were using that was evacuated by general miller. the reason the afghans have
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the equipment they have is because we wanted them to be successful. they could not be successful without the appropriate equipment. >> watching the hearings yesterday and today they feel like they were played as fools because you said you knew they would fail we have an army we built up and use them until we did not need them anymore to accomplish the biden and trump objective to get out of afghanistan however it went horribly wrong as we can probably agreed to. general millie you talked about your commitment to your office and the principal military advisor to the president. correct? >> and that's president trump itand president biden. >> and the secretary of defense in the national security council. >> senator blackburn yesterdayde asked about your conversations with several book writers and you are fine with giving them your opinion and you said you
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had a forward phone call that was with house speaker pelosi. >>nel true. >> she was concerned over the safety of one —- nuclear weapon. >co correct. >> but pelosi is quoted as saying they cannot even stop him from assault on the capital who knows what else he may do if he was doing anything and kissing his fat to butt do you recall that quick. >> i have not seen the transcript. >> there is a lot of disparaging comments made and my focus was to assure her the nuclear system and weapons were under control. >> she went on to say it's been crazy for a long time i'm sure you haven't had a chance to read the book yet and
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responded madame speaker i agree with you and everything if you are the principal advisor to the president and she says that to you, do you thank you are doing service to our president by agreeing with the speaker that your commander-in-chief is crazy? >> i actually said, i am not qualified to assess the mental health of the president. what i amm agreeing to as we have to have a secure nuclear system. >> what about the current president mental capacity? we have someone who is the cpersonal physician prior to the three presidents at president biden should take a mental competency test with that to carry out a nuclear order or any serious engagements? >> no. answer is the same with the presidents mental health or anybody's mental health. i am not a doctor. >> youm said you are concerned
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about trump when you made the call to china. >> no i did not. what i said was i guarantee you that president trump is not going to attack you any surprise attack. i was carrying out his intent, president trumps intent. >> that was helpful. mr. brown is recognized. >> thank you mr. chairman. each questions have been asked and answered therefore i will use the seldom opportunity with the two most senior officials of the pentagon to make a statement. we cannot ask men and women in uniform to fight forever i commend the president for recognizing this to bring troops home but we know the threats are not just on the battlefield for we have grappled with extremist ideologies. and military ranks as the fbi
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director testified earlier this year january 6 was not an isolated event but stated the problem ofwa domestic extremism and it is not going away anytime soon i know 12 percent of those charged in the riot at the capital has military experience with at least one indicted writer and activee military duty well above the participation rate. the last time you are both before the committee spoke about the issue of extremism and armed forces and you said from private to general no room for extremist behavior and i commend you secretary austin for ordering the extremism stand down the past february to deal with the threat.
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in the military leaders do not. in april added senate armed services committee strapped, commander said he was confident the number of extremist in my force is zero and at the same hearing general dickinson space command echo that assessment claiming in the formations i have had throughout my career, i have not seen that so i think that is my organization this ignores the clear evidence of the 2019 survey found one third of active-duty servicemembers have witnessed white nationalism or ideologically driven racism in the ranks you yourself secretary austin spoke of your experiences with extremism while you were in uniform. the army cid 2020 gain of extreme activity assessment found 66 percent increase of gain or extremist activity and october 2020 pentagon report how this actively
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recruits military personnel. we have a problem the scope of which we don't fully understand. the democrats and republicans asked the department for a definition. the improved screening process and a status report and recommendations and you have still not yet received it. which is why last week the house passed fiscal year 22 nda a giving additional authorities. was extremely disappointed to see the statement of policy which opposes the counter extremism provisions in the nda a with the over burdensome collect of requirements not a single sentence talks about how to improve those but congress is about to authorize an appropriate $768 billion to the department nearly $25 billion more than the president's budget request.
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yet the administration has additional data whether sexual t or racial injustice the department repeatedly tells congress we can handle it commanders are possible we are ready to fight tonight we cannot wait years i or decades in the face of absence from the department before meeting the challenges of extremism in the armed forces but the time to address it is now. as this hearing reveals there are many important issues for the military to address in addition to the ongoing american afghan evacuation and anticipated over the horizon.
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and then the way to take care of their troops please stop fighting congress. and those have the tools for what they need to fix the problem i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you for being here and chairman millie i just want to start i understand the conversation with the chinese but i do understand you going to the't press and that disappoints me that you would talk to the press about that. not about the other stuff. i am okay with that i'm not okay with you talking to the press. there early two at bagram is that correct. >> that is correct. >> there is intrinsic value
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with two runways versus one. >> it is dependent on the mission. >> the urban via environment and there is strategic advantages and disadvantages. >> that is correct. >> talk about the strike on august 29 i think. with the rules of engagement spent not only the rules of engagement but whose rulesf were they? with us military rule of engagement. >> following "the new york times" article to describe a policy change of the biden administration to place greater restrictions on don't on —- drone strikes conducted outside of battlefieldld zones.
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and then with white house approval and the one that killed ten innocent do that require presidential approval? >> no it did not. >> at what level who was the approval authority? >> it was over the horizon in the theater so the overseas. >> at what level? three-star? >> slide officer level. so at what point general mckenzie at what point did you know the strike was bad that hit civilians? >> we knew the strike it civilians within four or five hours after the strike occurred. us central command released a press release saying that. we did not know the target of the strike was a mistake until sometime later.
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it took a few days to run that down. but we knew pretty soon. >> secretary austin when did you know it was a bad straight killing civilians? >> . >> general mckenzie said those that were injured. >> so for four or five hours? >> as soon as that happens we investigate. >> what w is your question? it doesn't take much to answer that. >> . >> i am assuming those at multiple levels to see those investigations there's a lot of questions i have the have to be in a classified environment i also sit on a different committee that has different insight and those who authorize at what level and if we take accountability
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i make strike they live under rules of engagement i have those i like and did not like i had to make hard decisions but i don't want to blame someone i want to make sure we get the level in the rules of engagement were proper and followed for whoever didn't follow those so the strike was done that we have a rising capability because we reported a secondary explosion we reported all kinds of stuff who did we kill? >> i prefer to pass that name in a classified setting. it was a facilitator and a good strike. we got someone although not directly involved in the attack on the 26th , certainly fell within that. >> i would like to know that in at classified.
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maybe i went to union public high school 1100. between 11 and 1500 citizens but 5400 out that leads thousands that want to get out provide know for a fact we have people calling us wanting to get out that were not allowed or were kicked off and not allowed we have to get her period. i yield back. >> . >> general millie thank you for your 42 years is service commitment to civilian rule and commitment to military communication to keep the country safe over three decades during the cold war and for the sacrifice and patriotism you and your family have shown. as a sign of immigrants came in your families that. i want to think the three of you for ending america's
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longest war and executing the largest airlift in history. secretary austin you have testified add 21 —- had this 2500 troops stayed beyond the deadline the military would need reinforcements i just want to make this clear that choice for president biden was not zero troops or 2500 troops it was potentially many more general millie briefly when you agree more than 2500 troops would be needed had the taliban engaged in offensive strikes? >> there is a reasonable prospect read would've had increased forces given the taliban were likely to start attacking us and there is a range of forces really we talked about 254500 in that range. >> i want to talk about the strike that killed civilians i
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think our military claims more than any other military in the world that's why i think we ought to talk about this. i have pictures of the seven children who were killed along with the three adults to remind us and then to do a fine job during those ten days to support of activating the family members as they requester to resettle them in the us is that correct secretary austin? >> it is. >> canan we get the family and the coworkers evacuated now and brought to safety cannot happening get them in the us are someut safe place? >> we will work through state department channels to engage
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in the family and if they desire we will do everything we can to facilitate. >> i hope we can expedite that and the compensation it's the moral thing to do and how america can do is itself i admire and respect your leadership i want to see how we can improve the intelligence to prevent the strikes innc the future. one aspect you said is there was a light toyota corolla that ledt to the effect are there any more common than a toyota corolla in afghanistan. >> i there were many other factors going into that decision. >> according to the stars & stripes those registered were corollas but one of the other things that concerned me is the corolla was parked next to
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a us registered california-based ngo delivering humanitarian assistance so the question is did the dod know about the events of the strike? >> since that is under investigation i would just hope we can make sure going forward that are department and then to make sure that aid organizations are on a d no strike list. >> and as are the mosques that are used by isis-k as training sites as well. >> i believe our military goes to extraordinary lengths to prevent this. is not to be an indictment of anyone and want to make sure we continue to improve the process and do right by the family who has suffered this
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unspeakable tragedy. thank you again to the three of you for your leadership and everyone who has served. regardless of the view in afghanistan i find the attacks of patriotism to be a dishonor to this community and your service. >> i have to ask the witnesses a question with complicated scheduling we were scheduled for votes at 1:30 p.m. my plan would be to go to that period and then take a break but it has been a while we could take a 15t minute break at 12:30 p.m. i wish there was an easier way but it is totally up to you would you like to break at 12:30 p.m. or go until the notes? >> i think we are good for right now.
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>> if you need a break. >> we will fire the star cluster. [laughter] >> we have aids pounding on us they need a break. we will proceed. i appreciate that. spent the "washington post" reported august 20 the taliban offered and did you meet to have such an offer. >> and that they are withdrawing if they attempted to with one —- disrupt withdrawal we would punish them severely. >> but to allow you to have security over all matters? >> what you take security for all of kabul that is not why i was there or my instruction. >> did you convey the offer however to the president
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quick. >> it was made in the presence of the special representative to afghanistan. >> do you know what was conveyed. >> i don't know butnt to my chain of command. >> you made the decision to turn down the taliban offered to allow the us military to secure kabul and but the safety of our troops in the hand of the taliban? >> i do not consider that to be a formal offer. not the reason i was there i did not pursue it. or someone made a decision that would have been made. >> we don't know if it was the president. >> i do know was conveyed to my chain of command. >> military terms what is the retreat of military forces under security provided by and with the permission of enemy forces? >> i don't know i've never demoed of this operation. >> i thank you just did. >> i disagree. >> you disagree? you did not withdraw forces from afghanistan after a negotiation with the taliban? >> that is correct. we did not do that. >> so as to not be a conditional surrender in your
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opinion. >> it would not. >> how do you describe the operation quick. >> noncombatant evacuation operation that we conducted with their own timing and forces. and they we warned the taliban if they would interfere we would strike them hard. they chose not to interfere that operation. >> you are saying the meeting until i was to let the taliban know this is what we are doing. take it or leave it but you are operating under the agreement we negotiated with the taliban for surrender. the doha agreement. >> i was there to tell the taliban we were conducting and on that evacuation operation. >> that the dod definition it does not include the evacuation of combatants you are also evacuating combatants so that part.ev >> you are wrong. when i met with that taliban 15 august we completed the withdrawal of the operation those that went in and in fact it would include the insertion and extraction of command forces. >> but the hall to withdraw if that happened quick. >> it could be called retrograde. >> was it within your orders? >> i was tasked to conduct
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non- combat evacuation. >> but that happened after you had the withdrawal. >> largely. correct. >> what is the tasking to withdraw called? >> i have to go back and take a look at believe it was a withdrawal. >> withdrawal. which i believe the definition is a repositioning of forces. i would call it a conditional surrender. i guess we have tode check the dictionary definition. so where general millie said before, has al qaeda sworn by the taliban? >> there's a deep relationship with the taliban. >> i cannot answer that for you right now yes or no. >> i believe general millie said it before. has the taliban renounce the previous oath that al qaeda. >> the taliban and al qaeda have a very close relationship ago i do a not expect the taliban to seriously interfere
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with their repositioning in afghanistan which is the question you're asking. >> a new interior minister is a known al qaeda associate. is there any evidence they have broken with al qaeda? >> is the march attack breach the doha agreement in your opinion. >> it did not. i >> do you know which taliban forces provide security in front of the airport quick. >> yes we do. al>> specializing in suicide hebombing attacks. had the suicide bomber, i think he suggested the congressman they might have been in prison in bagram before. >> i don't recall suggesting that. >> do we know if he had been quick. >> we are still working very hard to find out where the
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suicide bomber came from. >> do we have the opportunity to take them out prior? >> we did not. >> we do not have an opportunity to take them out.ut does the over horizon posture we are now adopting require more or less difficult now that we are out of the country? >> it will be very difficult to do but not impossible authority said that for the record. >> your time is expired your time is recognize. >> general mckenzie, you said reports of engaging with the taliban with the red line around kabul. does that mean there was no discussion of a plan to defend kabul in early august? >> the discussion of the plan to defend kabul before the fall but when i went to go ha i took a graphic it was a map of kabul. we would ask the taliban to stay outside but we would not threaten then we felt is the best way but on the day of the
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meeting they were already in tdowntown kabul and then to have your thoughts on this and then fearing the fall on baghdad the centcom commander was defending those positions the effort was to reconstitute what about early august before the fall of kabul? certainly we considered what we need to do to protect the embassy and what can we do to buy time for the operation to take place? >> chairman millie yesterday you said you were asked on auguh to make a decision about the at deadline.
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was there ann actual formal request to stay past august 31t that you were taken into account in that decision. >> i don't make decisions. >> with a formal request to the taliban i am very familiar with the advice be provided. >> before the fall of kabul do we have the taliban agreement. >> what you mean by a formal but. >> is there a point the united states went to the taliban and prior toat the fall. >> from a policy perspective to be detailed information on that. i do believe the taliban knew we were departing.
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we announced it. and they can give you better dependent on —. you said you talk to the taliban and those were date set at all. >> so no date was august 15. >> that was not part of my conversation. >> so secretary austen moving at the fundamental viability over the horizon effort, is the airspace over afghanistan currently considered sovereign? i will phrase in a slightly rdifferent way but. >> yes. under what authority is that
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legal? period the same we were using before. >> that is under the security and defense cooperation agreement of 2014? so i think what we are prosecuting now is the wauthorities that were referred toto by general mckenzie earlier and to take that into a arclassified setting. >> i will follow up with you. general mckenzie, yesterday in your hearing in front of the senate you made a comment when asked about war on terror. . . . . that that is over.
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a. >> we have no forces in afghanistan. our only interest is looking for isis -- >> chair man gaetz is recognized. >> house armed services committee. we know we are not going to defeat the taliban militarily and they are not going to defeat the government of afghanistan militarily. you really blew that call, didn't you, general? >> i believe that was an issue of strategic stalemate and if we had remained. >> that's an interesting answer just not one i asked.
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you spend more time on this book than you spent analyzing the likely prospect that the government was going to fall immediately to the taliban. you said after kabul fell that no one could have anticipated the fall of the government. when did you become aware joe biden tried to get them to lie about the conditions in afghanistan, you did that in july. >> i'm not aware of -- you said the taliban wasn't going to defeat them militarily when did you become aware of that attempt? >> what i said was if we kept advisors with the government of
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afghanistan the army would have still been there. whether that's right or wrong, i don't know. >> are you capable of assessing whether another has the will to fight? >> no, we are not and that's the point the chair man made earlier. a. >> ndthat's an incredibly disappointing thing for the sec. defense to simply say i can't assess but it's consistent with your record. during the administration they gave about 48 million to train some folks to take on theng government and i think your testimony was only four or five survived first contact so what confidence should the committee have when you've now confessed to us whether it is the swing and miss in afghanistan total
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failure you don't seem capable to lookis at the fighting force and determine whether or not they have the will. >> the end result was the fdf that we stood up that was very instrumental in turning up the tide of the battle up in syria. >> so much that you got a thought in power and where have you been? >> the focus was isis and those forces had significant effect. >> it seems like you are chronically bad at this and you've admitted that, which is to your credit. when the people in the military like the lieutenant colonel stand up and demand accountability, when they say thatie you screwed up and point out the government isn't going to get defeated by the taliban, he ends up -- you end up in
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front of us and your former employee with a lot of money. we have cash and blood and an credibility in to this government that was a mirage. it fell immediately. they were talking to phil rucker and doing this thing with bob woodward. we couldn't rely on the government for anything at all. you gave up the game earlier when you said you wanted to address elements of your personal conduct. we are questioning in your official capacity undermining the chain of command which is what you did. >> youou absolutely did. you said yesterday that you were not going to reside when senators asked you this
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question. and i believe you probably won't resign. you seem to be very happy sailing over there.ab but if we didn't have a president that was so out, you would be fired. you've let down the people that wear the uniform all around the country and you are far more interested in what your perception is and how people think about you and inside of washington books than you care about winning -- >> the gentleman's time is expired. >> thank you>> mr. chair and gentlemen, i apologize for the behavior of my colleague. i'm deeply appreciative of your service and of the decades of experience that you all bring to this conversation. thank you so much for the opportunity to ask important questions of you, questions that ought to be asked of you in the spirit of our responsibility of oversight rather than provocation. so i just have i a couple of questions of clarification from the testimony that seven so far,
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and the first one is for you, general mckenzie. you mentioned in your opening remarks about having looked at different branches for the completeou collapse of the government and afghan military. that's the first time i've heard that scenario articulated out heloud. most of the testimony that i've heard prior to this is we never could have foreseen that so somebody that has a decision as a branching engineer type person, i'm intrigued to see if that is indeed what did happen and the likelihood you put two that and the cost that you associated with it. >> as we drew up the plan, one of the assumptions of the plan is that the afghan military would be able to secure the airfield because the only secured a small fraction may be 20% of it. the rest of that long parameter was secured by afghan military forces. so the assumption was they would
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continue to perform that function but we also since we stated that as an assumption by the way we planned we have to say it is wrong because an assumption is a future hypothetical condition that we believe is going to occur. we thought that is something we should challenge, so we developed a plan if it failed, if they melted away so we have a branch plan that was developed as part of the overall neo plan where we would introduce adequate combat forces. it began to look increasingly likely that it would melt away so i began talking to the chair man and we agreed to flow the forces and for that contingency how long have you believed the afghan military might not be up to the task of taking over maintaining security against the
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taliban. has it been inevitable for five or ten years and how long have youti been relaying that information or possibility to any other senior administration if you could share that with us as well? >> i will start. actually, from the relatively short term perspective, i think the agreement and the signing had a really pernicious effect on the government of afghanistan and its military. psychological more than anything else but we set the date certain for when we were going to leave and they could expect assistance to end. so for the first time there was something out there in front of them. i also think that's an important thing. the other point would be my position and judgment that if we went below and advise her level of 2500,be i believe if governmt government of afghanistan would collapse and military would fall i believed that would be the inevitable result and i've expressed that in writing for quite a while. take a look at that. that was my best judgment on
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that. i believe going below 2500 was the other sort of nail in the coffin if you will that allowed the afghan government, that lead to conditions first of all we could no longer see what was happening to the force because the advisors were no longer down there with those units so let me give an example that we shipped a box of mortar rounds into afghanistan we would cite it over and the afghans would truck it away. there would be no one to help them disperse it to see if it went to the unit that needed the rounds. >> secretary austin, it looks like you had something to contribute as well. >> i certainly agree with the comments general mckenzie made. i would add that as a part of that agreement, we agree to see is the operations against the taliban so the taliban got stronger and increased their operations against the afghan security forces and they were losing a lot of people on a
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weekly basis. in addition to that, we caused them to release 5,000 prisoners and many of them went back to fill the ranks of taliban so they got a lot stronger and continued their attacks. i agree with general mckenzie that's when you could begin to see things moving in the right direction. >> i appreciate your time and very intriguing that it sounds like the agreement might have been a pivotal point and with that i will yelled back. >> the gentle man is recognized. >> you said the day that you sell the strategic failure as a 30 year veteran and somebody that's been t deployed four tims myself, and i haven't served as long as the three of you, but it breaks my heart. most veterans feel heartbroken.
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it ended up in a strategic failure. [inaudible] then the president to comee out and say that this s a success and he had no regrets. that does not break our heart, that makes us mad that he would say it that way. i want to say that upfront. second, the fact president biden on abc said that no one he could recall advised him to keep a force of about 25,000 in afghanistan. it's not true. we heard yesterday and today the 0 chairman of the joint chiefs d centcom commander advised differently. i have no other view than to see this as a lie. a falsehood from our president. that makes us mad. thirdly, i think it's important to point out that this committee for over a year cautioned both
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presidents against a premature withdrawal. in fact republican and democratic members of house and senate were so concerned at the risk of a calendar based withdrawal that we passed the law to prevent it. the chair of the committee voted for it when it restricted president trump. section 1215 prohibited any president regardless political party from down below 2500 troops to the secondary defense and consultation with the secretary of state and dni provide congress a detailed plan explaining how the u.s. would continue to conduct counterterrorism operations in afghanistan following the u.s. withdrawal. how would the u.s. conduct an orderly transition of security functions to the afghan military, and how would the u.s. protect americans remained in the country and how would the u.s. coordinate any such withdrawal with our nato allies? every single failure that we are now witnessing, congress warned against in writing and the lawaw over a year ago. after taking office, president
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biden wrote -- we wrote to them reminding them it's not permitted to go below 2500 to provide assurances to congress that the vital interests could tbe secured. despite clear congressional intent, backed by statute, this did not have been. the day after taking office, the newly confirmed undersecretary defense policy wrote to the members of this committee essentially stating president biden was smarter than congress and confident he had all the angles covered and it wasn't in the national interestha to prove congress the assurances required of section 1215. i guess unanimous consent to enter this letter into the record. >> without objection, so ordered. >> my first question, general mckenzie, i think one of the reasons that the afghan forces crumbled much quicker than we ever assessed as we pulled much of our air a cover and we took e mechanics away from the afghan forces, and we pulled a lot of our logistics capabilities.
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do you see this as underlying reasons why the afghan forces collapsed? >> i think all those reasons contributed to by the collapse. >> so when we take away most of our air power, that they were used to having, we pulled the rug out from under them. >> my position all along has been if you go to zero, if you go to a state where you're not going to be able to maintain forces on the ground, the collapse is inevitable. i have to further say i didn't see it coming as fast as it did. i thought it would be a matter of into the fall or winter. io didn't see it happening in 11 days into august. >> i appreciate your candor about this being a strategic failure. al qaeda, isis, what does this do to china and iran seeing how we responded in this retreat? >> i think that the tele- band sitting in kabul significantly emboldens the radical jihadi movement globally. the analogy i've used with many others is that it likely will put adrenaline into their arm.
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their grandfathers defeated the soviet union and the war in afghanistan many years ago and they ares taking this on their own networks right now and declaring it a major victory. so i think it's a big morale boost. i think it remains to be seen. i think the russians are quite scared, not scared but i guess concerned of terrorists coming across the border. china is very complicated. they've got a significant issue in the western part of their country. i think iran now has to deal with a complicated issue -- >> the gentle means time is expired. >> and i do want to make a comment, because i actually watch the george stephanopoulos interview before this hearing. joe bidennt did not say that no one suggested that we should keep 2500 troops -- >> it was a quote. >> i have the time.
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what he said was you cannot have 250000 troops stay there in a stable situation. so we should at least be accurate about what information was provided. i word urge everybody to, go bak and look at the words and not take what is being said here is accurate. >> chairman, i reador the quote. >> i read it also and i read it with a clear open vision to what he was saying, not to try to make sure we could successfully have a partisan attack on him. he was asked could they stay there and it in a stable environment. that is the option. not because it wasn't offered but because it didn't exist. and while we are ripping apart these three gentlemen here, i want to remind everybody that the decision the president made was to stop fighting a war that after 20 years it was proven we couldde not win. there was no easy way to do that. >> mr. chairman, i believe general bacon was clear --
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>> i will be happy to yield mr. rogers time when i am done. what he made clear is we need to stop fighting a war that for 20 years we've had these conversations over and over again. democrats bash on the republican president more than they bash oa the democratic presidents. republicans bash on the democratic presidents more the end they bash on the republican presidents. at theid end result was the sam. twenty years of an endless series of decisions by very intelligent, very capable, very committed people. any implication that the three gentlemen in front of us are not very capable, very intelligent and committed to the country is simply partisan political opportunism. we can look at 20 years. pick your favorite general, pick your favorite president, your favorite leader. none of them could successfully do with so many members in this committee who are sitting here
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telling these gentlemen that they are basically idiots for not beingg able to do. we should pause for just a moment and think about the fact that maybe that's the wrong argument. maybe the mission itself was really hard to achieve and what president biden said is we are done. we are not going to have these hearings anymore, the funerals anymore, we are not going to lose the servicemembers fighting a war when it is clear we cannot be n successful. if we pick at this decision or that, why didn't you do this or that, 20 years the whole lot of different people as lead us to this point and we said we are going to stop. the war is not over. we count on you and your leadership.
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the point is we have to continue to contain this threat mr. rogers is the ranking member on the committee and i will give him the time to respond. i disagree with your interpretation. mr. stephanopoulos came back and asked him again. so you're saying nobody advised you to leavee the troops and tht was his response but i think the general officers here and the secretary ofou made it clear tht they gave the president advice that he wouldn't listen to. in my opening remarks i made it abundantly clear i don't want them shouldering the blame on what happens when it was the administration's state
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department and national security advisor. i can't help but think back to my last deployment in 2005 and there was a moment where. walking with a heavy rucksack in the mountains of afghanistan and wondering and asking myself where was the debate? why weren't people asking me questions then. but as pointed out we could have been doing this a long time ago. for administrations, ten
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congresses this is a 20 year conflict so with that in mind the fact that there are serious issues. one about the continued obligation to the partners and the next about the planning and advance of the evacuation. with the recognition that i believe firmly that all three of you share as deeply as i do the continued obligation because all three of you served and i know that all three of you have friends.
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it's to provide employment verification to folks so they can be properly vetted and evacuated. what can the department to do more going forward and what is the plan to do that to get the paperwork in the hands of our friends so we can get them evacuated? leading an effort to ensure that we can help improve the process of employment verification if youu think back 20 years ago whn people were actually helping us and contractors that were working for us and some of the documentation so we are working
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to see how we can improve this and if there's any way we can adjust the requirements or ability to ease the process but we are taking this on in a very serious way. >> we stand ready and willing to solve this because our combat operations are over but we have that obligation is you've often noted.. there were two rehearsals in june and one in august. the june 11th one dealt with evacuees. the august 6th 1 dealt with scenarios for the august 6th
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tabletop did the department have in your opinion adequate understanding as to the state department's plan and role? i felt we were not completely aligned i and there were still some things they could do faster. to push forward on the ground. >> there were probably other
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things. i think back i recognize mr. banks for five minutes. i think it is critical to the help of the republic. with political book authors and reporters what compelled you to do that what we do as a government and a military to explain to the people.
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it's part of the job to be intransparent and in a free pre. i've done my best to remain personallyic apolitical. you hadn't read the book or any other political books that had come out. no doubt you are aware of them. i'm concerned there's mischaracterizations of me
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becoming politicized as an individual and it's my willingness to. we heard about the back and forth but in that conversation you said in a phone call with speaker pelosi she said, quote, republicans are enablers of the behavior. you know he's crazy. he's been crazy for a long time. that was repeated three times in the prologue of the book that you told speaker pelosi you agree with her on everything. is that an accurate portrayal of
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your account in the conversations? >> not exactly, no. i know what i said. i'm not qualified to determine the mental health or ss the mental health. >> we need the processes and procedures. you said you agree. the book also goes on talking about the january 6th riot and says in the list in the network of groups you believed were responsible for the attack and that you associated with it.
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you called these domestic terrorist or domestic terrorism. that included according to bobit woodward included conservative media outlets that you listed in the notebook included the news outlet that was founded by critics of the chinese communist party and the second most-watched media outlet in the country today do they reference epic times as on a list of domestic terrorists. do you have a notebook that lists the domestic terrorists by theot book peril or is bob woodward lying to us in the
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books? >> i don't recall any conversation -- >> do you believe they are domestic terrorists -- >> not at all. >> you listed the different groups are responsible for january 6. >> the gentleman's time is expired and i would note for the record i was quoted in that book. it could be a misunderstanding about what was actually said this represents stress in the system about the withdraw and
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what it means but also about an interest in politicizing national security issues. can i just ask the question i get asked the most in my district is are we safer now thanro we were in 2001 i believe the work was valuable and worthy talked al qaeda and other groups distracted and destabilized so we could build up the apparatus. so to hear from the panel but we have to watch for the reconstitution of the groups. no one likes to hear that.
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i would ask if we get a classified briefing on the posture so we understand. on the committee what we can expect when it comes to watching those threats. we watched the reconstitution of al qaeda that became isis and what are the tripwires that you are looking for that would push you to say we have a problem here. what are those things that you are looking for that would change your assessment and we need to take more significant military action.
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>> on the capability brief for general mckenzie and the joint staff we are looking at their ability to develop a capability whether or not we see the senior leaders beginning to have a freedom of movement in afghanistan. if we see them developing capability and training camps and other things. if we see them moving back and forth, those are things we are looking for and again it will take time to develop this true intel picture and we've begun
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that work. >> the specific indicators in general what we are looking for leadershipip capability training those sort of things and demonstrations of intent that ap qaeda or isis is going to do external operations against the interests. if we pick up on those, then it's our obligation toer present the president with options to deal with it. >> we have seen some reports thatnt in our attempts to get or the horizon posture in countries around afghanistan that we've had discussions about some cooperation can you help ushe understand that for many of us that gives us the hair on our neck starts to go up.
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can you explain what we are willing and not willing to do with the russians? >> again i would prefer to take that in a classified session. as you probably know about a reweek or ten days ago, i discussed over in europe with the russians ay session with 32 jobs and then i had a separate session with my counterpart and i can talk to you in the classified session about that. we are not asking permission or negotiate i guess is the word resident putin and president biden had a conversation and i was following up. >> i think given that it's not permissible to share classified information the committee should be informed should there be any movement with that? >> the time is expired and we've had a classified or we will have continued classified.
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as many members have said accurately the counterterrorism strategy in south asia iss going to be a crucial policy issue for us to deal with going forward. >> january 6th we had a violent attack. it was an effort to stop the constitutionally prescribed process of counting electoral votes. the first time in the nation's history we didn't have a peaceful transfer of power. in the aftermath of that attack, many of the members of our constitutional system failed to do their duty. many of them today are still attempting to obstruct the investigation into that attack attempting to whitewash what happened. you found yourself and your constitutionally prescribed role standing in the breach. for any member of the committee or for any american to question his loyalty to the nation, to
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question your understanding of the constitution, your loyalty to the constitution, your recognition and understanding of the chain of command is despicable. i want to apologize for those members of the committee who've doneab so and thank you for standing in theer breach when so many including many in this room failed to do so. with respect to afghanistan, the only question for us with respect to the deployment of forces in afghanistan or anywhere else is what is the u.s. security require. inre the circumstances we found ourselves in in afghanistan, the deployment of our forces was allowing us to conduct counterterrorism operations, counterintelligence operations, enabling us to prevent terrorists from establishing safe havens. the terrorists have an entire country of afghanistan. could you tell the committee whether or not you think the current situation in afghanistan following the withdrawal of
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forces which began with of the agreement and the orders that you've described in the trump administration which was carried out in the biden administration do you think we are more safer less safe now that they present more of a threat or less of a threat to our homeland than when we were able to conduct counter intelligence. >> conditions are more likely than not. it depends it was sometime between six to 12 and may be 36 months. >> when you look at the situation we face today in terms of s what's going to be necessa, the loss of life has been tragic and devastating but when we look at where we are likely to find
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ourselves do we think our ability to defend ourselves will now be more extensive or do you believe it will present a situation where we have to devote less resources to the war on terror? the ways and means are going to change and it's going to become much more difficult now. we have the capabilities and means to do that but it will be more difficult. >> members of the network recognize terrorists, yes. the biden administration has been saying that the agreement
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is still in effect and to the counterterrorism commitments in the agreement but the taliban is using this agreement to protect terrorists and is intertwined in the network and al qaeda so can you explain how that is going to be useful as some kind of a tool to hold them to any kind of a commitment? >> to do what they said they were going to do and what we theard them say they will watch their actions. >> to cause them to keep al qaeda activity in check and
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again we recognize that this is the taliban and trust is not an issue necessarily. i think it's important to start with of this and i would echo my republican colleagues opening. it would have been the extreme elements of the party attacks including but w not limited to e attack on the capital and congress on january 6th and 1 of the cornerstones is civilians, not military. to those of us that have one the uniform and judging from the attacks by some members of the
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committee, poorly understood by those who have not. i have concerns about how it was executed but i must applaud all of you for scrupulously insuring the civilian government remained of the decision-making authority as you continue to provide your advice even when you are at times your advice differed from the decisions made. thank you. i'd like to now turn to some questions that i have related to the timeline of events. february ofand in 2020, president trump made an agreement to withdraw the troops. by the time ud he left office, e had drawn down forces to 2,500 and publicly indicated his intent to complete the withdrawal and i think you
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mentioned the withdrawal troops by 2020 which was rescinded and then the november 20 draw down to 2500. is that correct? it was dated 11ar of november ad then on the 17th it was rescinded. the first was a zero and the second is had go to 2500. >> were you consulted on the decisions. >> very late in the game like days before the signing. were there plans for the withdrawal from the previous administrationad 12,600 on the y that the agreement.
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we s have to go back to the agreement and look at it. all the way through based on the set of milestones not like the large holders yes we have a plan
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to bring out mainly american citizens. it is centered on american citizens and their families. when youon say the planning latr included what is the timeframe for when you began from the early spring of this year. from the robust agency process how closely have consulted on the plans that they were developed?
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i went to the white house with the acting secretary and chief of staffve to discuss that orde. >> my time is expired and i will submit the rest for the record. >> thank you mr. chairman and here is when i think we are talking past each other. this war isn't done. it's not over it's against ideology and as it took decades to defeat the idea of communism and the idea of fascism it's going to take decades to defeat the idea of islam asked extremism you testified al qaeda is still with us. >> >> the director of national intelligence briefed the congress that they fully intend to attack again if given the
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chance. the head of al qaeda the former deputy pledged allegiance to the head of the television except now they have an entire state to work with. so respectfully we are not done with this war. i wouldl have thought we would have learned the lesson from iraq where we pulled out in 2011 you issued a statement and we found ourselves three years later with soldiers going back in so let's look at a situation the american people need to understand this. it led to the rise of the caliphate and it was more entity from al qaeda. look at the bases we had to deal with when we went back.
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we had bases in the gulf and kuwait and turkey. we had all of these assets to work with to go clean up that mess and how many soldiers and lives did we lose from cleaning up that mistaken withdrawal? but let's transition over here and what do we see? do we have a base in any country neighboring afghanistan? do we have any allies approaching the capability? they are being slaughtered right now with our weapons, with our
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equipment. if you have two present options to the president, how many soldiers are we going to lose because we have no allies on the ground, we have no basis in the region now we are going to get to the issue which is over the horizon counterterrorism. they have to fly all around irai and pakistan and lose 70 to 80% of the fuel and we saw from the failed attack that you have to have multi intelligence confirming with the drone operator is seeing. i appreciate your candor of how difficult this is going to be
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about the president of the united states is selling this country fiction that we can do over here with nothing without allies on the ground and without ocean access that is a fiction i think you all need to own and we need to be honest with the american people. i'm livid at the fact future americans are going to have to go back to clean up this mess we are watching. do we have any evidence, intelligence or otherwise of the pakistani troops on the ground i
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will take that as a yes. it's not going to go to a civil war it's going to go to a regional war. i'm very grateful for it. >> i represent texas and offering hospitality to nearly 10,000 guests and i want to say to the servicemembers how proud i am of the work they are doing
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to offer that hospitality. i have the privilege to tour the village last month they get the sense of how they are doing and we know and agreement former president trump entered into with the taliban and the taliban alone. weresi learned that agreement demoralized the afghan army and the taliban moved in and began makingn deals that expedited their control. we know that contributed to the rapid fall of afghanistan which shocked us all earlier you told us when former president trump entered into the agreement there
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was a setting out of very specific conditions that were to be met by the time of the drawdown. is that correct? how many of the conditions have been met when former president trump then announced he wanted to speed up the withdrawal from may 1st to january 15, 2020? >> there was only one condition that was met and that was the condition that the taliban committed to not striking against u.s. forces and coalition forces which they didd not do. when then president trump announced the expedited drawdown, was he aware that four of the five conditions had not been met? >> i believe, yes. >> do you know the significance of there is any of the drawdown
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date? >> i don't. i don't know why that particular date was picked. >> do we know whether those announcements of expedited withdrawal added to or exacerbated the demoralized nature of the afghan army? the order was not announced but the drawdown to 2500 was i think that was many of the contributing factors for the morale of the security forces. >> thank you, general. you've also described the outcome of this withdrawal as a strategic failure. can you share with us what would have beenn considered a success
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for the administration, the servicemembers and military experts who've been involved for two decades and what it would have taken to get to success? it would have been between the government and the taliban for the power-sharing arrangement and end to thesh civil war in tt manner. i also assess the probability was low but there was a possibility so the negotiated solution i think was probably the best way to describe a proper and to this war. ii don't think that there was a military solution to destroy and defeat. and i didn't think at the time if we sustained a level with our military 253500 i didn't think
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the taliban could defeat the security forces. i thought success meant between the taliban and power-sharing arrangement to end the war. has the u.s. military and department of defense begun to reimagine any of our existing involvements to better assess the risk of the fallout such as this one? >> we continue to take a look across the board and how. >> the time is expired and will have to be taken for the record. >> there's been a dispute we took the liberty of getting the full transcript and i ask unanimous consent. so,o quote, the military advises
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warned against withdrawing on this timeline to keep about 2500 troops. no they didn't. it was split. that wasn't true. stephanopoulos, they didn't tell you they wanted the troops to say? >> not in terms of whether we were going to get out in a time frame all troops. they didn't argue against that. so no one, your military advisers didn't tell you, quote, we should keep 2500 troops it's been a stable situation lacks. >> biden, no no one said that to me that i can recall. the american people deserve to know the truth. they are asking us to get the truth. either the president lied to the american people or legitimately cannot remember the counsel winding down the longest war in american history or you have not
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been accurate. >> i'm going to be direct i cannot share advice and i will not do that. i will also tell you it's been my position. >> you heard me say earlier, congressman, i support the president's decision. you also heard me say i don't view this as a no cost no risk choice but if we left 2500 people therefore a long extended period of time eventually you would have to reinforce because the taliban was committed to attacking. >> i understand all that. what we are trying to get to is what did the president no? did he forget what was told to
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him or is he not being truthful? >> that's an inappropriate question -- >> the american people want and deserve accountability the public space in the institutions continues to erode precisely because everyone in the bubble appears to have some sort of immunity on the basic standards that the rest of america is expected to live by. this is one of the biggest military and foreign policy blunders since the withdrawal bifrom vietnam so my question is simple where does the blame lie? >> i am responsible for everything happens. i remain focused on defending this country and that's going to be my focus for the foreseeable future. second, i would remind you we just evacuated 124,000 people --
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-- >> i appreciate that you think a success i will let the silence speak for itself are you now suggesting that the united states formed a with a terrorist organization? >> can i go to the first question? like general mckenzie it's not our purview to share specific discussions in terms of national decision-making but it was our opinion at the time and it's been consistent and i would also
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tell you this administration did and i was part of it a very rigorous process and thisng president was one of the most informed decisions that you could imagine in terms of all sides of the argument. we look at the cost, the benefit in a narrow focus to view because others have a wider angle. >> we are supposed to believe the president either wasn't informed by you or he forgot it. either one is alarming. >> the time is expired. since it was submitted for the record we read through this kind of quick. your top military advisers warned against withdrawing the timeline. that's what the president said.
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he didn't say nobody advised me. it was split. then the stephanopoulos says no, no one said we should keep 2500 troops. it's been a stable situation for the last several years. we can do that. we can continue to do that. no, no one said that to me that i can recall. no one is said it's been a stable situation for the last s several years. we can continue to do that. those are the words on the transcript that was just submitted. those are the actual words and, yes, i will yield if you want to get to some other people but i should give you the chance. >> so no one told you we should
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keep 2500 troops. biden says no, no one said that. >> it's been a stable situation but that's kind of the important part. >> we've both made our point, and it's alarming whatever it is. >> i would like to start by associating myself with of the remarks that were made at the beginning of the question and focus on the timeframe immediately following the 2020 election. november 9, 2020, secretary of defense was replaced by acting secretary defense christopher miller and additionally other key leadership positions b at te dodfe were abruptly filled with new people. did this rapid deployment in the final days of the administration give you concern regarding the transition of the
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administration? >> owe in the military trained for the leadership replacement from the time we were second lieutenant and it's clearly the prerogative of any president to replace any appointee at any point in time so that's how i would answer that we are prepared to execute at a moments notice if someone is relieved. >> did you have any concerns at the time that involved the potential misuse of the military for political reasons? >> i was determined to make sure that the u.s. military is properly employed and i would render my advice so that it is not for political use. >> it's been referenced you did cooperate with several officers
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and it seems as though your choice to do that is you wanted to get the story straight, the facts out there and you acknowledge today that you frequently speak to reporters and that you sometimes do that anonymously. we would all like full transparency and understanding of the facts surrounding this timeframe and as you know i am a member of the select committee to investigate the events surrounding january 6th. so i can speak for the committee to say we would be interested to have the same level of information and be able to speak to you in the future about those topics. i willel shift now to another topic of discussion and if i could ask my colleagues to respectsc my time. you spent half of your career fighting a war in afghanistan and when did you personally know that the war was lost?
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>> i think if you go back to five or six years ago i knew that it was stalemate. loss is a different word that i believed five or six years ago that it was unwinnable through u.s. military means for several reasons. a sanctuary inli pakistan that wasn't going to be defeated and that insurgencies are highly political to begin with and it was important to have a government along with a military police and army that could adequately deal with that situation but i knew years ago that it was stalemated and said that repeatedly and that winning would be defined as a negotiated solution is most insurgencies are historically but they result in a negotiated solution and i
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thought that was the best way. >> did you think that winning was possible or a stalemate or status quo was the only ultimate outcome that we could hope for in this situation? >> i think as i recall president bush at the beginning of this 20 years ago said winning would look a lot different in this war or words to that effect and i think that he was right then and i think that a negotiated solution wasen the best way of approaching the win and would have been the best interest in the united states and for the region between the taliban insurgency and the government. >> did you want to add something briefly? >> you heardu. me say at the vey top that my hope is that we
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could reach a negotiated settlement. a stalemate would actually give and provide the opportunity to do that and for both sides to negotiate in earnest if neither thought that they were going to win and again we never reached that point because the taliban had advantages because they were not striking. >> the time is expired. so there is a vote. we have a hard stop at two. i'm goingg to go vote. if you could take the chair for just a moment i will come back as quickly as i can and free you of that obligation but it's my obligation to go through that so members, vote accordingly. i think we have ms. jacobs that is next up on our side. that's what we are going to do and you are recognized for five minutes and i will be back i
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want to thank the witnesses for being with us. i've heard an outpouring of concern and frustration from my constituents whoti expressed outrage of the disastrous i am deeply outraged and have been equally stunned by the lack of leadership shown throughout all of this. the american people deserve to have a full accounting of the isdecision-making processes and what ultimately led to the disastrous outcomes. this is not about whether or not we should have left or not. this is about how we left. we may not to get all the answers and the public deserves in today's hearing to know the facts surrounding this. my first question regarding the bagram air base during the testimony yesterday use it the e choice was made based on the decision to protect the embassy. what aspect made it more secure
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and following that, you mentioned in your opening statement there was little strategic value if you could yelaborate on both of those please. >> i certainly didn't say that they have little strategic value. we can break it out and go through it line by line if you like. i commanded at one point in time so there may be other people in the room that have done that. i know a lot about bagram air force base and what it offers. the key point is the embassy was in kabul and our mission was to provide security for the embassy and in the event of an evacuation we would have the embassy first. so it provides everything you need to be able to do that.
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capacity, proximity so i think it was the right choice. >> isn't it accurate they have multiple runways that would have made it easier. >> and that's a great point. the reason we can say there were 2500 people earlier was because we had the afghan security forces at the perimeter. if you no longer have thatin you have to give it five or 6,000 troops to do that and then defend it so that's a substantial additional commitmentn of resources. >> anything you would like to add?d? >> i would like to briefly talk about it. it has two runways but it's not what you want to examine when you look at an airfield. there is an arcane thing called the ability to move aircraft on
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the runway and they had better facilities for that. additionally as the secretary noted, the distance where the people are had to be a planning factor and we were under the direction to go to zero, 650 to secure the embassy so it wasn't an option under those circumstances. if you have the assumption that there is no afghan army the 73 you have n to have a quick reaction and then secure the roads between kabul and the security issues clearly are different but it really was not a feasible option given the numbers of troops, distance and security requirements. >> follow-up you mentioned
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having to evacuate so quickly. do you trust of the information you are receiving from our intelligence community general austin? >> i have confidence in the information we get from the communities, yes. that doesn't say they will be 100% rightht all the time. >> you give and it seems as though they did not at all planned for a complete surrender of the afghan forces upon the withdrawal of u.s. troops. >> they predicted that outcome but a different timeline and you've heard us say before. in addition to the botched over the horizon activity that killed ten afghans t still believe that community can be trusted and as effective? >> i have confidence in the
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community in terms of -- >> the time is expired and i will now recognized ms. jacobs for five minutes. >> i would like to follow up on the questions regarding the strikep that killed a worker for a southern california based aid group and nine family members including seven children and general mckenzie you called the strike a tragic mistakefa and i think we all can agree with that characterization i'm not going to ask about the specific intelligence that led to the strike, but you said even after the truth was revealed that there was a reasonable certainty that the target was valid so i would like s to know do you have that same level of confidence in the intelligence that you have had for similar strikes carried out under the dod authority? >> yes. i do.
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intelligence is the cerepresentative johnson said is never perfect. we are not going to get perfection. they speak of this language what is more likely than not and i believe we have good reason to have confidence in our intelligence systems. they are not perfect but we have good reason to have confidence andig that has been expressed or time.ex this one the strike was bad but that is not to say that the system as a whole is wrong. the drone the program had adequate safeguards.
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what have you learned? >> i have directeded a review si won't make any comments on the specifics because that review is ongoing but in terms of our commitment to learning from all of our operations we remain committed to doing that and we are specifically concerned whenever there is an inadvertent loss of life and injury to civilians so we take that very ifseriously and hold ourselves accountable for that. >> we will be looking forward to seeing the resultsts of that review and also having accountability. yesterday when asked by senator kelly about the over the horizon
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counterterrorism you said as we go forward in our ability to create the ecosystem that allows you to stay on the ground it's going to be harder in places like afghanistan. i know many of my colleagues have already asked about what this means to counter groups like isis. i have a different question. what does that mean for the ability to prevent casualties so we don't see another strike like the one that took place and if it becomes harder will you take extra precautions or how do you plan to deal with this extra uncertainty? self-defense strike because we believed there was an eminent attack against w the forces so that's different than the type of strike we would undertake in the over the horizon scenario.
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there's no eminent see to that attack. we are talking weeks or months rather than hours or minutes so to develop the pattern of life and opportunity to apply all the other disciplines of intelligence that can help us whether that signals human intelligence and we would work hard to trysi to reconstitute tt and i will talk more about that in the future classified session butt it would be wrong to beliee it went badly wrong is the prototype that we would employ for past org, future strikes. >> i look forward to working with you so we do that well.
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>> mr. jackson is recognized for five minutes. >> the partisan support there were differences inhe the opinin on how that should have been conducted something we should agree on is the withdrawal should have been conditions based and there shouldn't have been political motivation but i'd like to ask how often were you in contact? august 18th you recorded the saying the collapse following the departure there was nothing that i or anyone else saw that indicated the collapse of this army between the 18th and 21st of june in just four days, 21
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districts in nine provinces fell and the afghan security forces quickly surrendered and abandoned their posts in. what were you doing during this timeframe? you were just two days prior when these failed you were here in the committee on june 203rd and said you listed some of your concerns we talked about. one was defending the critical racer theory, telling us you wat to understand, how offended you were to be labeled as woke and worried about what caused the civilians to enter the capital. i submit perhaps we wouldn't have 13 servicemembers, wounded and citizens abandoned left hostage if it has been more focused on the duty to this country instead of defending and
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pandering to the biden administration's social experiment with the military doing book interviews and colluding with military officials. you said you were not going to resign just because the president didn't take your advice. i submit you should resign because of your dereliction of duty and your inability to do your job and protect this country. general, will you now resign? >> [inaudible] >> i yield back my time. for the record what the chair man was doing his appearing this committee at our request and answering the questions that we asked him, and it appreciate his willingness to
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appear before us. that's an incredibly important part of the job and i don't want to leave you with the impression that we don't want you to do it becausee of questions like that. thank you forai taking the timeo be here today as someone that is also worn the uniform i'm very appreciative of your service and having first deployed in 2005 i support the decision at the withdrawal of the failure to the taliban has damaged the credibility with our allies and partners and i will never forget i saw early in the morning on the 15thur of august.
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it's dressed only operation referred to you ordered centcom to make preparations for o the potential and on the tenth of august there was another. when did the state department actuallyly call for this? >> i believe it was on the 14th, congressman so you stated that it remains among the most challenging even in the best of circumstances and the circumstancesmo in august were anything but ideal, no government, highly dynamic situation on the ground and lethal terrorist threat and also you offered impetus in the state
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department that it would put our people and operations at a greater risk and so what i am trying to figure out is despite the taliban captured the country. there was a talk that was done on august 6th and we did a table talk. why were we doing the table talk when the taliban was rapidly advancing on august 14th jalalabad cell and by august 15th the taliban had entered a couple. that's what i'm trying to figure out is why did we wait.
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i know we had to wait for the state department to call that why did we wait so long to do that even though we had the position forces as you had mentioned in afghanistan the 82nd airborne wasme coming in bt still total chaos on august 15. >> i think what changed we anticipated based on the disposition of the forces that were centered around the population center that they put up more significant resistance and that fighting would be a bit more intense as they approached we didn't see the fight we thought we would see and that was to begin tohe move some this very quickly and then we expected as they approached couple that again those forces
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that were there would fight more and there was a government in place still but with the government collapsing and leaving that precipitated the security forces and panicked the people so what you saw that first day was a result of that panic. should it have commenced sooner than april 14th? >> i certainly think it could have. we had the elements to begin to operate a bit sooner. that is an state department cal. we provide our input based on a lot of things. it's a very dynamic and challenging situation.
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>> it included the personnel. when did the planning begin to include afghans? >> late spring, early summer. >> mr. franklin isis recognized. >> thank you for your patience and persistence i understand it's a lot of hours to be sitting and when you are in this batting order there are a couple of things but first i was kind of puzzled hearing the characterization of the departure now out of afghanistan as something other than a surrender it doesn't feel that way to me or the american public. twenty years ago exactly we were planning the initial strikes into afghanistan and at that time the marching orders were to defeat al qaeda and ensure afghanistan would no longer be a
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safe haven for terrorists and fast-forward the conditions six to 36 months the country will be launching strikes like that targeting against us it doesn't feely like it's anything other than the surrender. you mentioned that it was unattainable under the circumstances and the option went away when you were given the 750. i understand that. i assume you mean it was unattainable because of the troop limitations. but if you hadn't been limited, what your professional military advice have been to relinquish? >> at the troop level we would have held bob graham and that would have been my recommendation. >> you also mentioned there was no tactical reason. wouldou you elaborate i don't wt to put words in your mouth but
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strategically what you see the value? >> i was specifically talking about the operation down to 650 and then we were given the orders to conduct for the reasons the secretary and the chair man outlined the center of gravity of that you've got the operating capacity and i will tell you this we had a plan to see is the airfield should they have become unattainable but as it has already been noted the significante power and they nevr became unattainable so we didn't have to consider that plan although we had a highly detailed plan to be able to do it it wasn't necessary because we were able to maintain the throughput and we would introduce significant combat forces and would have provoked conflict that would have been a political decision not a
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militaryry decision. >> ..
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hink it was wise for us to continue with the timeline or do we feel compelled because i constantly hear the administration pushing back, saying, we had no choice. our hands were tied. the trump administration tied our hands to this timeline. but the taliban didn't comply with their end of the deal. and now we're kind of stuck in a bad situation. do you feel that we should have pushed a timeline, not necessarily to stay in afghanistan. i get it, i think there's a time for us to start negotiating an exit there. but in light of how disastrous the hasty withdrawal turned out to be, we could have used more time to get those folks out. >> well, quite frankly, because of the fact that, you know, for
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a year, we weren't striking the taliban, they were increasing in combat power. we released 5,000 prisoners which kind of regenerated combat power for them. they were able to make advances against the afghan security forces because we weren't doing things to fully support -- >> again, i apologize, the gentleman's time has expired. mr. panetta is recognized. >> thank you, i appreciate this hearing. mr. chair, and good afternoon, and thank you, gentlemen. thank you for being here, thank you for your service throughout your careers, service to our great nation. as an american, as a veteran of oef, i want to thank you for continuing to remind the american public not to reduce the service of 800,000 men and women who served in afghanistan down to two-week chaotic withdrawal. not to reduce the sacrifice of
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the 2,461 men and women down to a single photo of a c-17 on the kabul tarmac. but as you know, and as american, as a veteran, and as a >> . >> yes we evacuated 122,000 and you should be proud of that but what about the others? on that note think about the definitions of success should not be based on how many people you got out but how many people we left behind. nobody did to into to get out
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hundreds of thousands of well-equipped afghan troops shed their weapons and ran. what we were left with, when we
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were about to leave, was a state that was so corrupt that governments were cutting deals with jihadists, inflation was rampant, and it had left those soldiers, basically absent these on the payroll, so commanders could steal their salaries, very similar to what happened in vietnam, and you are seeing a lot of similarities presented to that case. elaborate. if not, what would you consider the fundamental ill? >> thank you, i certainly agree that corruption played a major role in the lapse in security forces. i also believe that the week
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leadership attitude that, and the fact that president ghani frequently, without any apparent reason, changed out his commanders, which degraded the confidence of the troops and their leadership. so i think for the morale of the military. i think there is a combination of a number of things that came to together to create these effects but iec certainly agree that corruption was central to this issue. >> it's about the legitimacy of the government and i think that corruption is one of the contributing factors to delegitimize. it is my observation that to gather all the facts but at
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the village level the government of afghanistan was looked at as parasitic as opposed with the exception to the afghan army itself but the government and local officials and police force would clearly delegitimize in the eyes of the people that was a major contributing factor to the dissolution of the government and the army in the collapse in a very rapid period of time. >> i yield back my time. >> quickly then we will be done you are recognized. >> thank you mr. chair. >> during this hearing, the virtue of courage was used to describe the current president and that was misplaced. that virtue of courage should be attributed to the 2004, 461 troops that we lost that gave everything that 20698 that remain and injured and wounded any hundred thousand served i
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am a little perplexed thank you for being here want to clear something up during the testimony general mckenzie were asked when you knew the drone strike had gone tragically wrong you said five or six hours later quick. >> correct. >> probably people that were notho involved takes a little longer to learn the rest of the story. >> that's great. >> five or six hours after people that should not have been killed were killed. >> i learned from general mckenzie's reporting there was
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collateral damage. whenever that happens we investigate. ea>> general millie we described it as a righteous state —- strike. >> i have to go back and look at the full quotation we followed procedures. i had every reason to believe we followed our procedures at that point in time we knew there were civilians killed and noncombatants and collateral damage. >> or others killed yes. we don't know we are trying to sort that out. >> that's right. >> because i believe that the target that wee were aiming for. >> i have a few more minutes. thank you. >> generally you serve under both president trump and biden. i have spoken with secretary former secretary of state pompeo with a very extensive conversation with former director of national intelligence. what was the general sentiment
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of advisors if conditions were not met and how long would that army and government would nlast? and then it was one in three years. >> it's interesting you say thatro because talk to mr. pompeo and mr. reckless, they told me it was unanimity even president trump said if conditions are not met the afghan army and government would collapse within weeks so john radcliffe
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told me he told his successor that they were going to collapse if those conditions were not met they would evaporate. >> that with all the respect what i think it is come it was not a failure of intelligence it seems to me. it wasas a failure to heed that intelligence. so those thater were produced. >> we have 5000 bad guys and bob graham - - and then we go down at 650 we cannot hold it so we split to july 1st at bagram. and then it fell august 15?
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august 16? then we have an attack on our troops a couple weeks later can any of you guarantee the american people that those 5000 bad guys come back into that were directly responsible for killing our troops quick. >> i cannot guarantee that. >> i yield back. >> thank you mr. chairman and mr. secretary i have several questions and i appreciate your concise response. general mckenzie, august 30th you told the media while you maintain the ability to bring americans citizens and civilians out until immediately before the departure of the final flight, no civilians were on the aircraft. that mission ended approximately 12 hours before the exit. so to clarify when did the last citizens pass through the taliban perimeter?
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>> that is a very specific question have to come back on the record. >> when did the last afghan civilian successfully passed through the gate quick. >> same just a few hours before. >> how many individuals pass through the taliban perimeter in the 72 hours preceding the departure of the final flight quick. >> probably in the lowur 100 i will come back with an exact number. >> thank you on august 19 ground commanders authorize the use of helicopters to rescue 169 americans from the hotel after the initial plan for them to proceed on foot became too dangerous at what time aren those assets no longer in operation. >> first of all 200 meters off the compound is not a long-distance that we did use
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helicopters for that we kept helicopters up to the very end one of the final things we did from extracting was to break down some helicopters and load them. >> what is the specific contingency plan to continue that evacuation of the taliban close checkpoints surrounding the airport quick. >> at all times we are prepared to accept americans citizens that they were able to make it to the gate we talked about that it was actually part of the force protection commanders on the ground had to balance their force protection against the need to allow americans to enter we tried to work closely when we could with the taliban to ensure free passage for americans t. >> that werehe they not implemented once it became clear no additionall american citizen would be allowed to pass through the taliban checkpoint? >> we attempted to allow
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americans to be able to get up to the gate to the very end i do not have facts why it did not happen. and then we were beginning to turn inward or as we were prepared to extract. >> the gao with a recommendations to enhance the readiness of the global response force of the contingency operations. june 2021 gao ss the department had not implemented any of the recommendations to improve readiness due to the ongoing development of the dynamic force employment concept. so what percentage of the total immediate response force and existing pre- position forces deployed in support off operations spartan shield were deployed to assist how many battalions intended to be a follow-on force and then
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another marine battalion and marshall had been deployed at the 82nd airborne division very rapidly and 6000 troops very very rapidly. and we far exceeded any were published so in addition to that we have a variety of us high and special operations forces that deployed extraordinarily rapidly. we easily met the rapid deployment standards.
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>> thank you gentlemen for your service too the military men and women and to our veteran to serve over the 20 years over the longest war in us history. thank you mr. chairman and i yield back. >>el thank you for your testimony today. i know it was a contentious caring. in the way they chose to conduct themselves but that is a small price to pay for the transparency and i appreciate you are willing to do that and the opportunity to have this discussion a and we will continue to discuss the situation in south asia we appreciate your testimony. anything for the good of the order? >> one thing i would like to ask one thing that is practical that we do have a classified hearing on the over
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horizon capabilities. i have spoken individually with all of these gentlemen i am very concerned of counterterrorism capabilities and how we address that. >> we will have multipled southside hearings. it is something we need to do. thank you again. we are adjourned. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> here is a look at what is ahead on the c-span networks. the houses and a 10:00 a.m. eastern. in the afternoon, they vote on a
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federal ending measure to try to avert a government shutdown at midnight eastern time. they also work on a senate-past infrastructure bill. the houses on c-span. on c-span two, the senate gavels and at 9:30 eastern. on c-span3, health and human services secretary heavier becerra, and secretary cardona testify about reopening schools during the covid-19 pandemic. that starts at 10:00 a.m. eastern. you can watch all of our coverage online at or on our new video app, c-span now. ♪ >> get c-span on the go appeared watch the day's biggest political events live or on-demand anytime, anywhere, on our new mobile video app. c-span now. access top highlights, listen to c-span radio, and discover new


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