U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a former company commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom, today pressed top military officials Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, and Commander of U.S. Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie at a Senate Armed Services Committee on the Biden Administration’s haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In her opening remarks, Ernst stated that President Biden prioritized a cheap political victory—a withdrawal timed to the 20th anniversary of 9/11—and executed his vision with little regard for American lives or the real threats we face, and the loss of our servicemembers and abandonment of Americans and Afghan allies last month was an unforced, disgraceful humiliation that didn’t have to happen.
Decision to Withdrawal
Ernst asked Secretary Austin if President Biden or any of his national security advisors expressed any military and diplomatic conditions for the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, beyond the looming 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Ernst noted that—as General Milley had stated—military recommendations should be conditions based. Ernst said, “Secretary Austin, you are extremely diplomatic in your answers…but this was not a conditions based withdrawal.”
Ernst also expressed her frustration in the inability to continue a diplomatic mission in Afghanistan after our diplomats were forced to evacuate the country.