Government Report Indicates As Many AS 9,000 Americans Left In Afghanistan
WASHINGTON - The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations released an exhaustive report in February, 2022 about the evacuation from Afghanistan on August 31st, 2021. The Unclassified Report indicates that as many as 9,000 of Americans were left behind in Afghanistan, as opposed to the estimate of 100 to 150 that had been released to the public prior to the report.
The report states "On August 17, 2021, and at the height of evacuation efforts, senior State Department officials leading the evacuation task force indicated there were 10,000 to 15,000 Americans in Afghanistan, according to the F-77 report.12 By August 31, when the president ordered an end to evacuation operations, State and DoD had evacuated approximately 6,000 American citizens. Even taking the most conservative estimates from the F-77 report, this meant the United States left at least a few thousand people behind".
The report stated that Biden ignored numerous intelligence reports about the potential for a speedy Taliban takeover of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan and decided to abandon the Bagram Air Base while disregarding dissent cables from the State Department, failed to plan an evacuation until it was too late, and in the process abandoned tens of thousands Afghan partners.
It says that the Biden administration did not make a decision on evacuations until a National Security Council Deputies Committee meeting on August 14th which was just hours before the fall of the capital, Kabul.
The report highlights the fact that one of the most important roles of the U.S. government is for the protection of American citizens overseas, but the Biden administration failed to properly plan for an evacuation despite countless warning signs that a Taliban takeover was imminent.
It says that the U.S. government failed to account for not only the number of people who would need evacuated, but even how the evacuation would occur. When the evacuation did occur, efforts were hampered due to the earlier decision to close Bagram Air Base, which would have improved the ability to carry out evacuations.
The evacuation of Bagram Air Base also led to the release of 'thousands of extremists', including one who carried out the terrorist attack that killed 13 U.S. service members
The report says that from August 15th to August 31st, the United States completed its largest air evacuation, but that it was marred by a lack of planning, coordination and communication. The U.S. failed to establish a clear system of how to contact evacuees and process to allow them into the airport, which resulted in American citizens left behind in Afghanistan and U.S. legal permanent residents and Afghan allies abandoned to the fate of the Taliban regime.
The report notes that the program had been impaired by numerous challenges, including insufficient staffing, poor coordination and the inability of the State and Department of Defense to verify employment prior to the Biden Administration, but states that it is remarkable that the Biden administration "took minimal action from the time of President Biden’s withdrawal announcement in order to address these deficiencies".
It says that despite substantial failures of leadership and foresight, it was junior and mid-level civil servants, Foreign Service and military officers as well as enlisted personnel who helped mitigate a number of issues through extraordinary feats.
In fact, the report says "In fact, it was the heroic initiative taken by these people that prevented the evacuation from being even more disastrous than it could have been". it stated. "Our diplomats on the ground and in Washington outdid themselves, working around the clock while the enemy circled, with few, if any, resources outside of the Hamid Karzai International Airport".
The report clarifies that "Any criticisms found in this report are not of the many people mentioned above, or their herculean effort. America, and the myriad Afghans they helped, owe them an enormous debt of gratitude, and I am thankful for their dedication and excellence".
The Letter of Transmittal written by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations February, 2022 states the following:
"Dear colleagues, Over the past 20 years, the United States and its allies were engaged in a military and diplomatic mission in Afghanistan. Our mission made great achievements in combating terrorism and supporting the rights of the citizens of Afghanistan, particularly women and girls. While there is substantial disagreement about the policy to leave Afghanistan, Americans share an outrage in how the United States withdrew last August and what that failure has done to America’s standing.
Despite countless warnings that the Taliban had the ability to take the country swiftly, the Biden Administration failed to properly plan a coordinated evacuation of U.S. citizens, Afghans, and allied partners. The administration waited until less than a day before Kabul fell to make senior leadership decisions on organizing and executing a withdrawal, which proved to be too little too late. While the Department of Defense and Department of State pulled off a major feat in the number of people evacuated, more of our partners could have been saved if proper planning had been conducted
There are many issues to investigate and address, but this report will describe how the Biden Administration’s failure of duty allowed for a quick Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and a botched withdrawal that left hundreds of Americans and tens of thousands of Afghan partners behind. The United States will have to deal with the fallout of this failure for years to come
Sincerely, James E. Risch (Ranking Member)