House Panel Holds Hearing To Scrutinize Afghanistan Withdrawal

House Panel Holds Hearing To Scrutinize Afghanistan Withdrawal

( – In August 2021, President Joe Biden ordered the removal of all US troops from Afghanistan, a move that signaled the end of 20 years of military presence in the Middle Eastern country. Nonetheless, things went wrong from the start. Many observers spoke of a lack of organized planning that resulted in chaos at Hamid Karzai International in Kabul, including a suicide bomber that killed 13 US service members and 170 Afghan citizens and injured many more on August 26. As part of its efforts to get to the bottom of what went wrong, the House Foreign Affairs Committee recently held its first hearing on the matter.

The Purpose of the Hearing

On Wednesday, March 8, the first meeting, which lasted six hours, took place on Capitol Hill. Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) gave the opening remarks, detailing events of the withdrawal. He noted the suicide bombing, the number of people left behind, and the government’s failure on all levels. The purpose of the hearing was to take Biden to task for his administration’s shortcomings in getting people out of the country, a point backed by a 115-page report issued last year. McCaul also held a moment of silence in honor of the 13 deceased service members, whom he named.

Scathing Testimony

During the hearing, several veterans who were present at the airport during the bombing described the harrowing events of that day. They said they were left with physical and mental scars.

Marine Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews, who was one of the 45 service members hurt on August 26, told the committee of his horrific injuries. He said his body was ripped open, and as a result, he lost two limbs and multiple organs and has undergone a total of 44 surgeries. He called the withdrawal “a catastrophe” and cited “an inexcusable lack of accountability and negligence” in the aftermath, according to NBC News. He also relayed the tale of having been in the sniper tower earlier that day when he noticed a suspicious person. He warned his superiors, but they ignored him.

Another service member, Army specialist Aidan Gunderson, teared up while testifying about treating the injured that day, which included service members and Afghans who had fallen from the landing gears of planes while desperately trying to escape. It was at this moment when Gunderson said he realized “Afghans were risking everything, even death, to escape the Taliban.”

That statement led to calls for the House to back legislation to expand visa programs to get citizens out of Afghanistan and away from a terrorist regime.

A GOP aide who spoke with Fox News Digital said this first hearing was meant to set the scene for the investigation and to let it be known Congress planned to hold someone accountable. Officials haven’t yet stated when the next meeting will take place.

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