Rep. Stewart’s statement on the situation in Afghanistan

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) released the following statement regarding the situation in Afghanistan.

“These two things are not mutually exclusive, and in fact are both true: First, withdrawing our combat troops from Afghanistan was the right policy and, two, organizing an orderly withdrawal could have been achieved by competent leadership. 

“Overwhelming evidence that it’s time to withdraw is found in the fact that after more than 20 years, and two trillion dollars, we were not able to train or prepare an Afghan force that could fight for even 90 hours before losing control of their entire nation. After 20 years of sacrificing blood and treasure toward a mission in which we no longer know what success even looks like, we built a government that collapsed in mere days. 

“But the ongoing catastrophe in Afghanistan was entirely avoidable and is a blatant failure of leadership – both by President Biden and the Pentagon. Allowing weapons, helicopters, ammunition, and classified documents to fall into the hands of the Taliban is inexcusable. Not being able to defend our own embassy is a disgrace. Leaving the Afghani soldiers and interpreters who fought beside us to fend for themselves is incomprehensible. Competent military leadership could have withdrawn our forces in an orderly fashion, creating benchmarks and priorities that would have prevented the current situation. Neither the President nor the Pentagon did any of that.

“Just days ago, the president assured the American people that the withdraw was going as planned, and that the Afghan army was well equipped, prepared, and able to defend their country. We now know that everything he said was untrue. Did the generals mislead the president and the American people, or were they simply – and historically – incompetent?

“As someone who served in the armed forces for fourteen years, watching our military leaders express more concern about the ‘existential threats’ of white rage and climate change than the combat mission they were responsible for feels nothing but tragic.

“It pains me to see a mistake of this magnitude, but I could not in good conscious witness this level of failure without demanding accountability. Both Secretary of Defense Austin and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Milley should acknowledge their failure and resign.”