CENTCOM Commander Tell Congress Decision To Withdraw Troops From Afghanistan

The Congressional testimony of several of Joe Biden’s top defense officials earlier this week showed that there are still some Democrats willing to hold the administration responsible for the disastrous withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan this summer.

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) served four tours of duty in Iraq as a U.S. Marine and had some direct questions for CENTCOM Commander General Frank McKenzie. Moulton was most interested in why almost all military personnel were moved out of Afghanistan before the evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies was completed.

Moulton pointed out to McKenzie that we went from a troop level of 2,500 in April to 650 in July before sending 5,000 back to Kabul. McKenzie had repeated numerous times that the Afghan civil government would fall without troop levels at 2,500 or greater. 

McKenzie put the finger on the Biden administration in response to why the evacuation came only after almost all troops had been removed. He said that the early withdrawal came from orders given by the State Department and the president. He said that the drawdown was ordered directly by the president in April and “completed in July.”

Moulton responded by asking McKenzie if he was “going to fall back on the bureaucracy,” to which McKenzie said he was going to “fall back on the orders I received.”

The clear implication is that the thoughts of the commanders on the ground in Afghanistan were entirely secondary to the political calculations of Biden and others in Washington. Biden’s later misdirection or outright lies on the advice he was given about whether the Afghan government and military could stand without some remaining U.S. military presence cannot change the consistent testimony of the officers who were in the field at all relevant times.

While Democrats have largely stood in formation around Biden as the facts about the withdrawal come down against the White House, Americans can be thankful that there are still some veterans in Congress who put country above politics, at least when the competency of the armed services comes into question.