Today, I want to speak to the extraordinary courage, bravery and patriotism that the men and women in our Armed Forces showed the world – yet again – in the last several months in Afghanistan.
They were placed in an impossible situation because of the bad judgment and leadership failures of President Biden.
Despite President Biden’s bad judgment, our men and women in uniform again exceeded expectations.
In the process of doing their job for people that they don’t even know, we lost 13 of our best who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and 18 more suffered serious injuries.
I pray for their families for the loss that they’ve suffered.
Those 13 young men and women will never be forgotten. They’re heroes.
This disastrous exit was entirely avoidable, which makes the loss of life so much more gut wrenching.
Intelligent and honest people can disagree on whether we should’ve left, but it’s unthinkable that anyone could justify the manner in which this Administration made it happen.
The Biden administration left Americans behind.
This is the United States of America – we never leave our people behind.
I have heard from many Iowans who are outraged at this moral failure.
When he took office, President Biden arrogantly announced that “America is back.”
Now, the world sees America in full retreat.
The Russians and Red China are crowing.
I and others have compared the imagery and perception to the fall of Saigon.
But remember, in that case, we had pulled our military out before we broke our promises to the South Vietnamese military.
In this case, it appears that crucial support for the Afghan military was withdrawn while we were relying on it to hold off the Taliban long enough to complete our withdrawal.
I’ve been at many briefings relating to President Biden’s Afghanistan exit. I’ve tasked my oversight and policy staff to do the same. Some have been classified, others not.
What I can say – and what I believe the American people ought to know – is that this Administration couldn’t track the state of play on the ground in the way they should have.
Every briefing gave a more dire and desperate picture than the one before it. It was obvious that this Administration was losing control.
Yet, it was clear to me and my colleagues that the Administration never sufficiently changed its posture in the region as the facts on the ground changed.
When Administration officials were questioned about the strategy, they often responded that what they were doing was based on a “Presidential-level decision.”
Joe Biden owns this disastrous exit, plain and simple.
But Secretary Austin, Secretary Blinken and General Milley are not without blame.
This exit has realized the worst fears of every Afghan who dreamt of peace and highest hopes of every naysayer who said, “Wait and they will leave.”
Our enemies were right.
The Biden administration certainly left the women of Afghanistan behind.
They are once again being beaten and killed in the streets for supposed crimes such as daring to speak, wanting an education, not covering their faces, and in some cases, simply walking in public.
The Biden administration in its hasty exit effectively armed the Taliban with advanced American military weaponry that is now being used to oppress the Afghan people.
The Taliban is now patrolling the streets of Kabul in American vehicles, wearing American uniforms and carrying American made weapons.
Some of the violent terrorists released by the Obama administration are now in leadership roles in the Taliban regime.
Other members of the Taliban leadership have remained on the FBI’s most wanted list for many years, including one with a $10 million bounty.
If this were a movie script, nobody would believe it.
In addition to the equipment, and the funds, it’s crucial that we remember the human cost of Afghanistan:
We lost 2,461 service members, 18 of which were Iowans
We also lost 3,846 contractors, 66,000 Afghan military and police, 1,144 allied service members, 444 aid workers and 72 journalists.
These numbers hit home; they hit deep and we should never forget them.
These numbers also don’t account for the stain on our national reputation for blatantly disregarding the welfare of Afghans that fought alongside us.
Leaving behind allies will have consequences that will affect our ability to build coalitions in the future. It will negatively impact our ability to defeat future enemies.
Looking through the negatives, the heart-ache and the pain that our country has suffered from this terribly executed exit, I remain hopeful.
Where the Biden administration has failed, veterans and current members of our armed services have filled the leadership gap.
Working together, these groups quickly built ad hoc networks to ensure their Afghan brothers in arms and their families were able to leave their crumbling country safely.
Americans have been inspired by reports of Operation Pineapple Express, organized by special operations veterans who, without being asked and without asking permission, helped hundreds of Afghan allies and their families to safety.
One of the more inspiring stories from this disastrous exit involved an Afghan family being guided by his former U.S. Marine brothers to Abbey Gate at Kabul airport.
The Afghan family was instructed by U.S. Marine veterans to carry signs with them that invoked Marine Corps phrases that our Marines at Abbey Gate would understand but the Taliban wouldn’t.
After several attempts, the Marines on the wall saw the signs and were able to retrieve the family and escort them through Abbey Gate only moments before the suicide attack that took the lives of 11 Marines, a Navy Corpsman, a U.S. soldier and scores of Afghan civilians.
When the Marine Corps veteran network was eventually able to make contact with the interpreter, he was asked if he and his family were alright.
His reply, “Of course I’m good – I’m with Marines.”
This isn’t the only amazing story regarding our veterans and our service members.
Pictures that were taken during this time show the desperation of the Afghan people – mothers desperately throwing their children to American troops in the hopes that even if they couldn’t reach safety, their children would.
These pictures also show the pure hearts of these American warriors.
During this 20 year conflict our service men and women have never wavered in their duty to God and Country, consistently showing their ability to annihilate the enemy.
They defeated the Taliban, liberated the people of Afghanistan, and protected our country from further terrorist attacks for two decades.
And, during their final hours in Kabul, our young warriors did something unimaginable for almost any other country’s military. They injected humanity into the dark fringes of a war-torn conflict during a mass evacuation.
We’ve seen the pictures of Marines in full battle attire, holding crying infants. We’ve seen our service members giving the shirts off their backs to keep children warm.
This stands in contrast to the actions of political leaders thousands of miles away.
Despite the Taliban’s most recent acts of barbarism, the Biden administration has begun discussing potential recognition of the Taliban as a government. The possibility of taxpayer funded foreign aid has been dangled as a carrot to incentivize their good behavior.
Talk about naïve.
The Biden administration’s string of foreign policy blunders has created a domino effect that America will feel for years to come.
Afghanistan could once again become the epicenter for terrorist activities that will launch future attacks on our nation.
I pray that my concerns will not become reality, but fear they likely will.
At the very least, America’s credibility on the world stage, with our allies and our enemies, has taken a huge hit.
In the unfortunate event that our worst fears come to light, my solace is in the knowledge that our service men and women continue to have the strength to overcome the failures of their political leaders.
My fellow Americans, let us never forget the sacrifices our men and women in the Armed Forces make for our freedom and security.
Their service and sacrifices have been of immeasurable value. All Americans owe a debt to them that can never fully be repaid.