tv Pentagon Officials Testify on Afghanistan CSPAN October 30, 2021 2:06am-4:46am EDT
>> i will now call the hearing to order. good morning, the committee meets the security situation in south and central asia in light of the transition of u.s. military forces from afghanistan. this is the sixth event in a series of committee engagements seeking to a success u.s. military 20 year mission in afghanistan. understand factors that led to the tolerance for takeover of the country and afghan forces, overseen dod operations afghan evacuees and recalibrate counterterrorism operations in
light of emerging threats and broader national security priorities. joining us today, doctor colin powell and lieutenant general james mingus, director of operations joint staff. thank you for being here. there may be a tendency to focus on final months in afghanistan's, our withdrawal the summer in the event surrounding could not happen in a vacuum, lead to this outcome of catastrophic give it to iraq or failure to effectively grapple with support for the taliban. this is not a democrat or republican problem, please have manifested over four presidential of ministrations willingness to recognize and impact the operation of today and the future. one fundamental question that requires close examination is how did the decade-long strategies building the afghan national defense and security forces result in a force
incapable of defeating the tolerance and seemingly collapse in a matter of days? need to better understand what led to department of afghan security forces suffering from low morale, corruption and we are incapable of operating without u.s. coalition support. in addition, we need to assess the failure of afghan government earning a loyalty of the afghan security forces contribute to unwilling to defend the government against the taliban. our inability across multiple innovations deal with pakistan, another example of being prolonged. managing relationship with pakistan remain important successfully intimate counterterrorism strategies with other partners and allies that's why it's important for us to reflect upon study the entirety of the 20 year mission afghanistan.
i agree with general malaise testimony last month but there should be a comprehensive review spanning the war in afghanistan, i would support independent on the afghan war, senator duckworth and colleagues have taken the lead. i look forward to working authorizing reviewing part of the national defense organization act. at the same time, we cannot allow examinations to come at the expense of national security for today the future. while the u.s. edited military mission in afghanistan, we must continually to ensure al qaeda, isis k and other terrorist groups do not use afghanistan to attack the united states and allies. we must remain vigilant about these facts and ensure we establish an effective robust counterterrorism moving forward. the members of the committee received classified update on regional security issues and threats. the american people deserve to
reassure department remains actively engaged defending clement against terrorist threats. i would ask to the extent you can because of the nature of this material in today's session providing an update on efforts to address the threat of terrorist groups operating in afghanistan and central asia. i would appreciate an update to build a new regional counterterrorism. like to understand status and negotiations with regional allies to facilitate this posture whether and how adversaries may attempt for such efforts strategies. before i turn to opening remarks, i'd like to remind my colleagues there will be a classified session following this open session in sb 217, office of defendant security and remind my colleagues they are
scheduled three votes this morning so this will be somewhat collocated. let me recognize ranking member -- >> thank you for our witnesses for appearing here today. the most senior policy advisor at dod is appropriate you agree to testify in open session on these critical issues. let's be clear where we are here today, chaotic withdrawal of u.s. troops in afghanistan, 13 serviceman and women were killed and hundreds of american citizens were left behind and many thousands of afghan partners have been abandoned although some questions have been answered, we still have a long way to go to all of our questions are answered and i want to think chairman for working with us continuing this
oversight process. too often the current administration shows president biden forest to withdraw from afghanistan because of president trump's agreement with the taliban, that's just not true. everyone knows that's not true. president biden hasn't felt bound by president trump's policies on anything, iran or the southwest border or military. second, the delhi agreement was a condition -based approach under president trump's plan, u.s. agreed to withdraw troops only if the taliban met seven conditions including preventing al qaeda from threatening the united states from afghanistan denying residents to those
threatening the united states. these conditions weren't that as a general milley told us only one of the seven conditions was met as we've heard in recent hearings, al qaeda remains active in afghanistan and will likely threaten the united states homeland very soon. that's why positive vibes military advisors told him to keep at least 2500 troops to continue fighting terrorism, protect americans here in the home and. president biden withdrew, he did not feel bound by president trump's decisions approach and did not follow it, which he had. we'd all be today if our the case. you are confirmed april 27 so you did not make a
recommendation on president biden's decision to pull the troops from afghanistan by a set date rather than based on the conditions on the ground. you are the most senior policy advisor's dod for the next four months is this tragedy played out. may to the end of august, when i want to know what the american people want to do and our troops who served and sacrificed afghanistan deserve to know what the president biden most senior advisors do during those four months? we want to understand what this national security team did on a day-to-day basis, a warning light after warning light began, we need to understand and fix what went wrong so we can keep
american families safe and protect interests in the future, the consequences of the present disastrous decision are impossible to ignore. afghan interpreter for australian allies was executed last week. china is going after rare earth minerals from being prevented from going to school, just the beginning. the danger is likely to grow, across our own backyard. we have heard from military officials and intelligence officials how little we really know about rising threats of terrorism now afghanistan is a safe haven for these organizations but instead of an honest look at what went wrong, the abiding administration has hunkered down and said
withdrawal and extracting success and instead of putting it together a real counterterrorism plan, all we get is those words. i look forward to witness testimony. >> thank you, please again. >> chairman reed, ranking member in half and distinguished members of the senate armed services committee, thank you for the opportunity to join you today to discuss military withdrawal from afghanistan and's department's role in operation. today i'm joined by lieutenant general director j3 joint staff will provide opening remarks following my. let me start by echoing secretary austin's expressing pride in service members. the last 20 years in afghanistan, men and women in uniform have reformed countless act of bravery. 2461 paid the ultimate sacrifice
while doing so. i know members of this committee share my gratitude to troops who have safely served and sacrificed, months and years away from families and loved ones and endured repeated combat tourism to protect the homeland. and women serving in afghanistan acted with courage and compassion that the performance of our soldiers and sailors and marines during historic evacuation was unparalleled. forty hour span following the taliban takeover of kabul, troops on the ground secured an airport and contested territory. seventeen days, they evacuated the largest airlift of people history, unprecedented in scope and scale. enabling evacuation of more than 120,000 u.s. citizens, lawful permanent residence, third country nationals, afghan partners including those eligible for special immigrant visas and state departments locally employed staff and other vulnerable afghans at risk.
as i testified, no other military on earth has accomplished that we as americans should be immensely proud. the success of the u.s. evacuation operation enabled by military planners contingency plans. medially following presence april announcement of our military withdrawal from afghanistan department of the prince went to work trying to drown out to be a published responsibly we did not imagine a situation in which the afghan government and security for an amount of days prior to the conclusion of retrograde department began innovating evacuation scenarios including possibility is that evacuations in the spring of 2021. we proactively took steps in case of emergency. in june, secretary repositioned forces in the region and sent the strike group to the gulf to cover the withdrawal. in august, additional forces were placed on alert.
forethought skill and bravery allowed service members to execute this extraordinary mission. to be sure, there were competitions tragedy while airlifting up to 9000 people a day from kabul, we express overcrowding at the airport and stating basis for evacuees, united states. highly dynamic environment, we had to adapt, access and evacuate u.s. citizens, lawful permanent residence in afghan evacuees in the end, uber unable to reach some of us we sought to evacuate by august 31. there were heartbreaking costs also create the final days of the withdrawal, we lost 13 american service members to a horrific isis cake suicide attack at the airport. the heroes sacrificed their lives to save tens of thousands of innocent people. we will forever mourn the tragedy of macbeth and honor humanity they demonstrated in their final mission. i'm acutely aware of the cost for by afghans.
last week i met with the president of nutrition education international and ei, doctor steven one. he told me of extraordinary life lived by -- an aid worker employed and one of the ten civilians mistakenly killed during the august 29 u.s. airstrike in kabul. it was clear from our conversation among the ten innocent lives lost including children, afghanistan lost a tremendous humanitarian strike. for that, we as a department are deeply sorry. just as i committed, i commit to each of you promote the department will ensure thorough investigation and accounting for the august 29 airstrike. we can stringently prevent civilian harm in the future and how we can support the family of those lost via control. military mission in afghanistan may have ended august 31 service members collective mats and employees remain at work. u.s. government continues the departure of u.s. citizens and lawful permanent residence as
well as afghans who worked for and with us from afghanistan. september 1 through october 25, u.s. government directly facilitated the departure of 240 u.s. citizens in 157 lawful permanent residence as well as others who have come out on private charters. physically evacuating permanent residence country nationals, afghan partners and others at risk from the airport is only one step in the extraordinary accomplishment of our military. across the globe and throughout this country over 10000 of our men and women in uniform continue to support afghan people alongside agency partners the operation ally is welcome. military installations across europe and middle east, temporary locations for evacuees, they underwent necessary vetting and health screening to come to the united states. this portion was enabled by america's network of allies and partners, a network no other
nation can rival. it demonstrates bilateral relationships across the globe, duty to be a source of great national strength. at home, who drawn upon another spring of national power, generosity and hospitality of the market people. we welcomed over 65000 afghan evacuees to safe haven sites located on domestic military installations, the complete necessary steps to be resettled into the united states. american communities open their arms and embrace evacuees with their support resilient spirit of the afghan people is coming to life. for example, in texas, afghan interpreter organized and started informal education program for afghan children and in new jersey, volunteers organized weddings for afghan couples who delayed ceremonies during the fall of kabul. american servicemember's continue to work around the clock to ensure evacuees are state and welcome on installations. everyday we see men and women in
uniform trading high-fives, fist bumps and playing football with afghan children create this mission is not without challenges we are truly proud of those supporting this operation. despite in-depth military presence in afghan chemical creek apartment far from over examining and learning for the past reckoning with uncomfortable truths decades and billions of dollars u.s. investment and military evaporated intolerant assault. additionally we are turning to the future bolster capacity to engage in counterterrorism operations to ensure no threat emanating from afghanistan and harm comment for interest even as we refocus the department on the challenges posed by china, russia and other competitors and adversaries i know the committee has many questions about the war, evacuation and path forward, look forward to taking them but before i do, i'd like to thank members of this committee for enduring support and partnership. i'd like to turn over to general mingus.
>> good morning, i'd like to start by thanking chairman reed, inhofe membership today for enduring support of our joint force like to extend appreciation for providing me the opportunity to speak today about the military's deliberate withdrawal from afghanistan department contribution to the agency's effort to initially evacuate fully vetted afghan special immigrant visa holders and execute noncombatant evacuation operation for u.s. citizens and other afghans. interagency coordination and partnership were and continue to be critical to ongoing evacuation processing and resettlement of the evacuees. i could not be more proud of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and civilians who service and sacrifice throughout the afghanistan humbling. if the owner of a lifetime to serve alongside them. as explained, depth of the simultaneous evacuation was unparalleled.
operations among the most challenging missions in military to undertake. little notice and often within continuous environments. department recognized it could be the most dangerous course of action and with interagency, we plan for this contingency. this planning allows the department to respond quickly to the department of state new york declaration.force package of nearly 6000 personnel within days. this element executed the largest humanitarian airlift operation ever undertaken. i'm not sure is another event that could better demonstrate what it means to be american servicemember, willingness to sacrifice self while devastating compassion under fire so others may enjoy freedom and opportunities who died. firstly, 13 service members paid the ultimate price and will be regarded as heroes forever.
americans were not the only heroes lost over the course of 20 year campaign, nato allies and partners and especially afghans part of our efforts getting with the initial invasion. countless afghans lost their lives trying to help the united states navigate afghanistan's difficult human physical terrain and countless more afghan national defense and security forces lost serving alongside u.s. service members and we lost ten more afghan civilians leading up to our departure during the strike and employed and started ice his head. we are committed to the ongoing investigation and supporting family members of those lost. we understand how the strike may cause the committee to question over the horizon counterterrorism operation, we no longer have a physical footprint in afghanistan. i look forward to discussing these issues with you today. furthermore, a case study of the department were poor over
ensuing years to analyze the development and ultimate dissolution to determine how to chart better pads for partners in the future. while we cannot and will never be able to instill the wealth to fight, we can't and will take opportunity to better understand those factors so significantly affecting our mission and nations interests. our work did not end on 31 august, interagency efforts to house transport, vaccinate and resettle evacuees population continues to be the effort, one that would be extraordinarily difficult without our allies, partners and ngos. we continue to support interagency is a work to relocate u.s. citizens, permanent residents and afghans to whom we hold special commitments including sib holders who remain in afghanistan and expressed a desire to leave. despite afghan withdrawal and
evacuation, the department remains focused on counterterrorism threats to the homeland while we reprioritize following withdrawal in a short-term, we are actively setting conditions to ensure we remain situationally aware ' to mitigate and neutralize developing terrorist threats and streams. i look forward to answering questions today as we work together for the benefit our country thank you for your time and support. >> thank you very much. for both the secretary and general mingus, when general smedley was here, he testified that although al qaeda and other terrorist groups degraded in the past 20 years there may be a resurgence of international terrorism within 12 to 36 months. do you concur with the assessment?
>> i think the assessment depends on which group we are talking about, the intelligence community is currently assessor's office isaac k has the intent to have these operations including against the united states but neither currently has the capability to do so, we could see ice his cake generate capability summer between six or 12 months. assessments by the intelligence community and al qaeda to take a year or two to reconstitute that capability. he said we have to remain vigilant. >> i do concur. >> i do and i know it was further refined last week they were here to refinance that assessment. >> thank you. general mingus, when general mckenzie was here, he indicated given departure of physical
departure of american personnel for afghanistan over the horizon situation will not give us the same, resources and range will be greater, risks will be greater. you all assess at this time despite risks to disrupt terrorist activities emanating the regents? >> i'm sorry, the last half of the question? >> despite increased risk which we all recognize, do you believe at this time to disrupt terrorist threats and adapting so we can consistently disrupt these activities? >> as you know and chairman and secretary both in general mckenzie over the horizon counterterrorism capability we have in place right now and we will go to detail during the
closed session but we have a command and control architecture set up in the gulf, we project assets from the gulf, collect across all sources of intelligence, use that and analyze it if necessary, take action in afghanistan. as indicated, it is harder but we have the assets in place if necessary to disrupt and/or degrade terrorist networks in afghanistan. >> thank you. some of us suggested the administration should start evacuating people from afghanistan sooner. was it the administration's assessment that doing so would have hastened the fall of kabul suggesting unite a state did not have confidence in the government? did we give assurances to president donnie that we would
maintain a presence and not signal lack of confidence? >> the goal was to assist the afghan government, not undermine them and there was concerned if you accelerated evacuations to incurred afghans, it would create self-fulfilling prophecy of the afghan government. something president connie raised as chief concern, we did bring out more than 1000 sib's prior but there was a concern mass exodus could undermine the government. >> art, finally, can you give us updates with respect to pakistan regarding cooperation with us and counterterrorism? there have been press reports recently they are working with the taliban to attack isis k, an enemy of both but can you give
us further assessment? >> pakistan is a challenging actor but they don't want afghanistan to be a safe haven for terrorist attacks, external attacks. they continue to give access to airspace and we are in conversation about keeping the open and happy to talk about that more in closed session. right now, with pakistan, it's pretty good. >> thank you very much. senator inhofe. >> thank you, mr. chairman. one of the confusing things about this whole thing is we really don't know how many americans are left in afghanistan. the administrations number of u.s. citizens left in afghanistan keeps changing. we understand that and it's confusing brief the administration always said 100
to 200 u.s. citizens left in afghanistan already withdrawn 234. in contact with 363 others, 176 of leave, not 100 to 200 referred to several times, there are still thousands of americans unaccounted for based on secretary of lincoln's earlier claim that there were ten to 15000, secretary of lincoln telling senators they are all there, 10,015,000 americans in afghanistan for the
31st of august, the administrations claiming it withdrew 6000. do the math, it withdrew 6000 americans from afghanistan. 4000 to 9000 americans were left behind. the administration says 200 remain. in october, the of ministration stated 234 americans had been evacuated the 31st of august. state department says in contact with 363 more americans in afghanistan, 176 of whom want to leave. if we can forgive us out, you're doing a lot better than i have
in making the effort to document everything in the south of very least, it is confusing. during the interview august 18 on abc, george stephanopoulos asked president biden whether u.s. troops would stay beyond august the 31st. if there were still americans to evacuate. president biden responded -- and this is a quote, if there are american citizens who left, we are going to stay to get them out. of course this didn't happen. secretary, i would ask you, when did you realize united states would not be able to get u.s. citizens out of afghanistan by august 31 did you present your leadership any options for extending the deadline to ensure our people were out of harms way
x. >> first, nobody was offended, we continue to get people out of afghanistan including american citizens and senator, i am happy to go through the latest numbers on that -- >> i would ask you to pause there, the latest numbers, i've done the latest numbers and maybe these are -- later numbers in a red earlier. >> i can give you some modalities on the numbers. >> i agree. >> validated numbers from the state department during that time were 6000 americans. we estimate we evacuated 5500. since september 1, the state department documented 240 american citizens departing afghanistan in september 1 and
157 green card holders. when you account for skiing additional individuals eat eat with arranged thc by the u.s. government through other charters, these numbers told to k-3 14th total to 66 lpr's total since the end. in terms of how many american citizens estimate currently in afghanistan, the department of states is in contact with 196 american citizens ready to department arrangements are being made to do so either via air or overground. another 243 american citizens have been contacted and are not ready to depart either because they want -- parent ready. >> the question i asked you present your leadership any options extending that deadline to ensure their people were out
of harms way? >> consensus of civilian and military leadership and department of defense we should to the august 31 deadline, it would make it harder to get american citizens out beyond that date. >> the same military leadership insisted we leave troops down there at the time we evacuated. >> thank you very much. >> thank you for being here and for your efforts to support evacuations in afghanistan. i want to start by recognizing as both of you did, the tremendous service of men and women in the military who made possible evacuation and continued support afghan refugees i was proud 11 members of the national guard
volunteered to go to the base as part of operation allies refuge and believe they represent what we have seen across armed forces. we have heard our office from a number of those men and women who served in afghanistan who continue to be concerned about people they served with afghans they served with during the attack men who are still in afghanistan whose lives are being threatened by the taliban because of her surface with the united states so you referenced those applicants so what we continue to do to try and ensure sib applicants and those who have received specialties is already are going to be evacuated out of afghanistan or the united states or somewhere
else where they will be safe. >> thank you, senator. the state department has a group they've established under ambassador jones and under that, there is a group that focuses on additional folks out of afghanistan. they are working with 52 special interest groups and his office and joint staff are part of. we meet with us groups twice a week because they have knowledge and understanding and contact with other afghans at risk and continue to try and come out in the state department works documentation, there is generally not bringing up american citizens and legal permanent residents but also afghans at risk. >> i'm sorry to interrupt but you have a sense of how many applicant remain in afghanistan?
>> the total number in the pipeline is 28000 according to our records of which 8,051,505 have come out with their family members so that was a significant number of sibs still in afghanistan and i share your concern and we will work to get them out and hold the taliban for safe passage with people and documents. >> i'm sure you are aware, i challenge for the applicant has been getting the documents that confirm they worked alongside our military and one of the challenges has been dod has not provided documents in many cases so what are we doing to reform that issue not just for the client applicants but for
future? >> this committee is aware the process is not designed for emergencies, it is very slow, typically a year or two, nothing was done in the previous administration to speeded up bring anybody out from afghanistan in 2020. the beginning of the biden administration, the department took steps that shrunk the time to about eight months, still way too long. the department of defense created enormous database and refined the data over time to speed up confirmation of employment. the dod itself doesn't provide documents, fees us through the state department. in some cases they provided physical peace us to people in afghanistan at s-uppercase-letter, electronic documents submitted because our embassy is not in afghanistan anymore. >> senator and i worked on legislation has passed congress to speed up that process but if there are other changes that need to be made, i hope you share that with the committee so
we continue to try and ensure that we don't have bureaucratic -- to get people out of the country. meta- question because my times being short, it has to do with the status of isis k and afghanistan. we seen an increase in the number of attacks in afghanistan. it's our assessment e talleyrand has the capacity to defeat isis k in the country? >> i think it's our assessment the taliban and isis k are mortal enemies so having motivated to go after isis k, their ability to do so is to deplete to be determined. >> you share that, general mingus? >> i do, ma'am. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator wicker, please. first of all, i have a statement. under secretary and prepared
remarks on page three talking about the work that the department is far from over, starting from the past reckoning with uncomfortable truths despite decades and billions of dollars of u.s. investment, the afghan military evaporated in the face of the taliban assault. let me remind everyone that for the past seven years before the debacle kabul, the afghan military almost all of the casualties and fatalities and fought bravely on behalf of of their country and general mingus, i appreciate the fact is been deployed a number of times and served dangerous situations but on the final page of your written statement, you talk
about a and ds f, defense security forces, you say there will be a case study for the department in years and a case study for historians in the coming years and you make this statement while we cannot and will never be able to instill the will to fight, we can and will take the opportunity to better understand and so forth. may i suggest both of those statements are unworthy of secretary of defense for policy of this administration or director of operations and joint staff and it was a decision by this administration to pull support for the afghan national defense forces that led to the
debacle suggest that this group of supporters was, populated almost entirely by afghan soldiers was unwilling to fight or evaporated in the face of combat is shameful and unworthy statement. mr. secretary, august 10, the white house said president biden believed it wasn't inevitable, the tolerance takes over kabul for the country and i'm fording directly, five days later we are bandits the embassy kabul, you think this is a signal to the afghan national defense or since we were out of there quick not depend on us anymore? was that -- was the abandonment
of the embassy part of the troop withdrawal plans? >> it was not part of the plan. the embassy was evacuated once they essentially arctic collapses soak starting on or about august 11, he saw a cascade of capitals culminating in the taliban and written couple. president connie left the country on the 15th and removed diplomats to the airport. >> general mingus, who took the vast majority of casualties and combat from 2014 to the abandonment of kabul? >> afghan national security forces. >> do think it is fair to suggest they did not have the will to fight? we cannot know we can instill the will to fight, is that a fair statement?
>> i agree how the chairman and secretary we talked about this very topic during the testimony, the leadership and will to fight when we pulled off tactical levels from an advisory perspective several years ago, his about it in terms of conditions of the afghan national security forces became less and less. robert offer based on my experience, i've fought alongside the afghans and there is no issue with their will to fight. we will need to study is the will to fight for what? that i think is the fundamental question. did they have the will to fight in afghanistan against other afghans? that is the part we will have to determine going forward. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. did i hear you say al qaeda and isis k are developing capabilities to attack the u.s. within two years? >> the current intelligence communities assessment is that isis k could potentially develop capabilities within six to 12 months and al qaeda could potentially develop that capability within one to two years, precisely the threat we need to remain. >> how do we determine whether they have the intention or will to attack once they have the capability to do so? >> i think we are fairly certain they have intention to do so and i think the committee have the opportunity to hear from the intelligence community and a classified setting not too long ago, we can follow in a closed session but we have evidence they have intent. the question is the capability.
>> we just that they will have the capability within two years. >> they could have the capability within two years. >> since they have intent, they will develop the capability so i don't know whether it's in closed session you will tell us what we are doing to defend against the combination of the capability and the will to attack. i have ongoing concern shared by others in this committee about how the taliban women and girls in afghanistan given their brutal history. it's not likely to improve. what is your understanding of the conditions on the ground for women and girls in afghanistan under taliban rule following our withdrawal and what is your assessment of our ability along with international community effectively providing direct aid to these vulnerable groups under taliban control? out a series of questions so i will submit them to you. other ongoing operations to assist e-mail afghan leaders at
risk from retribution from the taliban? i joined my colleague asking president biden for global women's issues to coordinate production of women and girls in afghanistan, i think that's needed now more than ever. has anyone been nominated to fill that spot? did you respond to my series of questions? >> i am happy to so as it relates to the situation on the ground, we have to be humble the reports are largely anecdotal, not systematic but conditions are not good. the taliban are authoritarian band. they promise to put forward a government, they did not do that. reports suggest women and girls have a hard time going to school. we've not seen evidence yet of widespread reprisals, such as immune it's not happening, we just haven't seen the evidence
yet but there is violence levels in human rights abuses to include against women and girls. i think the international community has leverage points with the taliban government. they want recognition and should not get that recognition unless they are a different government than the one they are now. provide economic needs providing leverage and we should continue to provide humanitarian assistance not to the government but around the government to at risk populations as it relates to the state department position on women and girls who don't have information on that and i would ask, i would defer that to the state department. >> i know the international community has come forward billions of dollars supposed to go directly to non- governmental entities but my understanding is that they have to work with the taliban make sure they get to the people they provide aid so how much of the international community including the united
states will get to these organizations and out of tolerance hands? you have some sense of that? >> it's more the usaid and i would refer that specifically to them but my understanding for my colleagues is that ngo and international organizations are able to operate around the taliban government to provide directly but it's harder. >> we know there are a number of people seeking siv status so what agency in the effort to enable documentation etc. is so necessary for these applicants to get that status and leave afghanistan? >> to the degree they need assistance the department of defense to verify employment, who set up a project called project rabbit to streamline the
data and make that process as sufficient as possible. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> q, senator fisher, please. >> thank you. last month generals milley and mckenzie testified on the challenges conducting over the horizon counterterrorism strike against targets in afghanistan. unlike other places in the world we conduct over the horizon ct operations, afghanistan is landlocked. we have no reliable partners on the ground and we don't have agreements with neighboring countries. in the month since secretary often in general milley general mckenzie testified, have we secured any agreements or arrangements with any country bordering afghanistan? >> we've not secured basing arrangements, we have extensive compensations majority -- >> thank you. since president biden made the decision to withdraw in april,
he spouted over the horizon ct operations as our strategy going forward, can you share with the committee tangible steps the administration has made trying to secure facing agreement with those countries? keep it short, i have a number of questions. >> we have arrangements already in the golf as you know. we are in conversations to keep mine of communication open. we've also had conversations pakistan which we can talk about and a closed session. >> thank you. i look forward to learning about the status of negotiations with those countries. general mingus, with the taliban in control of the afghan government absence of reliable on the ground partners, is it more challenging or less challenging for intelligence on isis k and al qaeda in afghanistan? that is particularly looking at
intelligence needed to identify locate targets for counterterrorism operations. >> yes, that's a fair characterization, more challenging to collect a closed session, we can lay out percentages across different intel specialties in terms of what that looks like. >> secretary, buyer to august, were you aware of reports of extremely low morale among afghan forces or reports they not been paid in months? >> probably aware but visibility on the exact conditions was highly degraded. >> were you concerned in june when the taliban took control of 21 districts across nine provinces over the course of four days? most without a single shot being fired. >> yes. >> at this time or any other
time prior to august 14, did you ever question the intelligence community's assessment that the afghan government and afghans security forces would remain viable for weeks to months, even years following our departure? >> i engaged my intelligence colleagues and as you know, we shifted 22 years, months to years and weeks to months and then days to weeks. >> there's a disconnect between reality on the ground and with the fighting administration assessment would happen with respect to the collapse of the afghan security forces is deeply troubling. it's not just our predictions were overtaken by events, some of the underlying assumptions upon which the analysis based were found. how can you possibly assure us such a disconnect is not happening between the reality on the ground in the biden administration's analysis of how long it's going to take al qaeda
isis k to gain ability to attack the united states? when you speak of six months is a possibility when our home it would be an extreme danger, those were numbers given several months ago, we hear an update on that. >> will give you the update, there's also a number of intel colleagues over here a few days ago providing you with the latest. i think we should be humbled with no fuss about afghanistan and we thought we did. i think especially after the doha agreement in 2020, armed forces declined substantially, we pull off afghan security forces celeste yelled for what was going on. >> mr. secretary, would you agree with general mckenzie's testimony then that the war on terrorists not over in the war in afghanistan is not over either? >> are threats all over the globe, the biggest want --
>> mr. secretary, specifically to my question on afghanistan, that is not over either. >> i think the war as we know it is continuing but terrorist threats continue. >> you agree with general milley's testimony the outcome of this war was a strategic failure? >> the strategic objective estimating al qaeda and bin laden was achieved, i think the broader nation building patient several administrations have was not successful. >> you believe the biden ministration bears any responsibility for the outcome of this war or for the taliban now being in charge of afghanistan? >> i think what we saw unfold the past few months whenever we left afghanistan. ...
>> it does talk about that taliban guarantees that al qaeda will not have safe haven but what does talk about negotiations between the taliban and the afghan government but that does not appear to be a condition of our withdrawal. the decision to leave afghanistan was made by the former administration for every 2020. the question before president
biden do abide by that agreement or was that abrogated and we are talking about the consequences of abiding by it but let's talk for a minute about the consequences of abrogating it. the general, what would happen if the president said in april 2021 we decided not to withdraw our troops from afghanistan but to maintain our presence there? what would have been the result of that decision quick. >> it is my belief the attacks from the taliban the one condition of the dough hot agreement to adhere to would have resumed. >> in order to respond to those it would be necessary to augment our presence? >> although the assessment by general mckenzie in general miller was 2500 was sufficient to deal with that but time
only went have been able to tell based on the veracity and the type of attacks starting to occur. >> i remember the discussions and conference calls around that time wasn't not the unanimous recommendation that would have violated the agreement and would have subjected the troops and citizens that remain to greater danger than leaving and working with the taliban to extract to the remaining citizens which has happened isn't that the consensus both from the taliban who would attack us at that point because of the abrogation of the august 31st agreement but also the terrorist threat which we saw play itself out at the airport. >> that is correct the
consensus among the joint chief and commanders on the ground the attacks would have resumed in the about —- ability to get american citizens out would have gone up higher than if we have departed as if we did. >> since august 31st the taliban has honored benefit is an agreement or an understanding or so they have letting out the siv quick. >> that is correct senator it has not been without challenge they have continue to let them depart and the numbers were briefed earlier. >> what is your assessment of the president made the opposite decision and what we established do testimony to recommend an additional 2500? with that have been enough if the taliban resumed attacks on americans in the country over
the course of 2021? >> there are two points. one is the exchange that if we would have stayed with we have come under attack and with that reinforcement for protection but then i know the assessment by the intelligence community was that that was not producing a stalemate that was eroding and in other words the afghans were losing so at some point even not taking fees the president would face pressure to escalate just like of one —- barack obama didn't and just like president trump did at the beginning of his administration when the afghans were losing. so the president did not believe the 2500 troops was a stable equilibrium. if we kept it at that level it would've been under pressure. >> i appreciate this but i
like that proposal we have a nonpartisan proposals i would point out this is the sixth hearing on afghanistan in the last several months we have had three or four in the intelligence community who had zero hearings that i can recall on still hot agreement which was really the heart of the departure from afghanistan. the umbrage and outrage of what has happened since the summer ring hollow because there is no former outrage with the administration of a disagreement with the taliban essentially unconventional to get the troops out of a certain date was may 21st , not august 31st. so with that i yield. >> thank you mr. chair and gentlemen for being here today as we examine the
repercussions of the president disastrous withdrawal from afghanistan. and the abandonment of americans to the taliban. is it true president biden said we would not leave whenever americans left behind quick. >> we have not left americans behind. they continue to get out. >> we left americans behind. >> we did not leave americans behind. they continue to get out. >> you represent the dod did they leave before all americans were out? >> it was a consensus judgment leaving on august 31st was the best way to continue. >> general, did soldiers leave before all americans were out? >> yes ma'am. the last airplane left the morning of the 31st of
august. >> thank you for your straightforward answer. doctor come is there more or less risk of terror attacks against americans and american interest because of the precipitous withdrawal of american military capabilities from the region? >> the intelligence community assesses across the world and that is lowest point since 9/11 we have already discussed the possibility that isis-k could reconstitute we have to be vigilant against that in afghanistan. >> that does not sound like a low risk when you just told us the possibility of attack from isis-k to our homeland could be six to 12 months from now. >> the intelligence community assesses to build back capability meeting need to be diligent to disrupt that. >> that does not sound like low risk. so what threat assessments did you plan the security environment that would occur
after the us withdrawal? what assessment? >> when i came into office the decision had already been made and i was overseeing from the civilian perspective the retrograde operation. >> yes. i understand you informed me you were busy sitting on the couch and not paying attention to those assessments which i disagreed with because i do believe in a position such as yours it should be keeping up at various assessments especially as we are pulling out our military troops leaving americans and siv holders behind so since you came into office those assessments used by others, did they prove to be accurate? >> as we discussed a couple of minutes ago the assessment constantly changed. originally reassessed zero.2 years after the withdrawal of
us forces where it could collapse it became closer to one year and then and then weeks and months and then days and then i was paying attention to all of those assessments spirit that means any policy recommendations and planning recommendations that were made at that time are now ill fitted for the security environment we are now facing. >> we were posturing to the over the horizon the a&e collapse makes that harder if but not impossible. >> what regional posture going back to the questions you have had one other capabilities are we now recommending be ready to deal with the security environment that is now true on the ground. >> we have a robust presence
in the gulf and we should talk about this in a closed session. >> so what measures have you recommended for the reconstitution we are now learning about isis-k and al qaeda? think we need to remain diligent and we can talk about how we're doing in a closed session but we need to build out more capabilities so not just reliant on the facilities that we have in the arabian gulf. >> in the remaining time that i have, thank you again for being here today. we will continue looking into this i we can form an outside committee to take a look at the past 20 years of the war on terror. but also i want to express heartfelt gratitude to the men and women that have served the great united states armed forces and all they have given
and their families have given over the course on —- the course of the past 20 years. they have faced significant and insurmountable challenges and yet they have overcome and served as well. we can never diminish their service especially in the face of the administration that would not listen to our military leaders so god bless them and their service to the united states. >> thank you mr. chairman. i also want to commend the service of all servicemembers with the intelligence officers and afghan personnel who supported them. i want to focus on the last point the senator made about a review. members of the committee myself included have a comprehensive and objective audit of the war in its entirety last month's hearing the general acknowledge many
lessons to be learned from the longest war. secretary austin stated any commission or review of the war should be an interagency effort. do you have any recommendations for the external independent review? for example what is congresses role on those organizations to be included. >> we are supportive of senator duckworth proposal for an independent commission. we also have efforts underway on the department of defense the joint staff, my organization is to identify the independent institution to be an independent review especially the time period every 2020 through the end and we are in conversations with the nfc and state department and intelligence community for whatever we do is the ongoing lessons learned and activities.
>> i would ask you one —- echo the comments for 20 years and the resources we your nation better answers link that —- we know our nation better answers. >> we have an estimate that isis-k could launch an attack between six and 12 months that al qaeda could launch between one and two years. acknowledging we are in an unclassified settings where the broad objectives or adversaries could have so what planning is dod doing in response to those recommendations and objectives? >> the intelligence community would say that isis-k and al qaeda could have the capability within that
timeframe but if they do or not cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty. we are deploying isr every single day with national technical means which we can talk more about in a classified setting. we are sharing intelligence with partners in the uk and others who are very focused on this problem set. we would get after this challenge and try to grow our capability to get after it. i do think the taliban is highly motivated to go after isis-k i think al qaeda is much more popular but we can and then to be wary as a springboard for the external attacks but because they fear international retribution would occur. >> because of the timeframe
those estimates are based on no coalition or intervention we will talk in terms of strategy and the goal is to keep those where they are at now if not further. >> can you give and assessment with regard to regional instability and how that impact russia and china? >> despite that propaganda outlet would suggest it's much more to their doorstep than on there's. both of them have counterterrorism concerns moscow and beijing are working with the taliban more than we are. afghanistan's other neighbors
the central asian states worry about the counterterrorism challenge and the implosion to refugee flows across the borders. >> what resources are bilateral improvements would be necessary to gain support for regional partners with issues pakistan to enable over the horizon operation or any other collaboration quick. >> we have very specific ideas but i recommend we talk about that any closed session it is very sensitive. >> thank you mr. chairman you have done an extraordinary job with the oversight and we appreciate your willingness to do that we have gathered a lot of important information to these hearings.
so it would be helpful and i like the fact you support the independent commission but would also be helpful is that ramps up for the committee to compile a comprehensive report of what we have learned through the oversight hearings can i get your commitment to work with the majority staff quick. >> to provide you the information for the effort. >> general, talking about the 2500 and secretary i will come back if i have time, but we need to understand more broadly that i get my facts correct so also there is a consensus of 2500 troops that we can maintain a relatively stable situation. nothing is guaranteed that talking about 2500 fighters the intelligence community and
with almost 6000 troops from our nato partners and allies so we are thinking somewhere in the order of 8000 or 8500 is that roughly the numbers? >> it is the coalition contractors yes it is accurate. >> those would've been the strike capabilities and all the other true presence? >> . >> that was largely inside the 2500 from a strike perspective to have both assets in afghanistan and from the gulf. >> by the way i have been against the dough hot agreement since february 29th i thought it was that idea and i'm not surprised for where we are today but it
seems to me based on briefings that we have received that there are a number of examples since the signing of the agreement that one thing we have heard consistently as they were doing targeted attacks of afghan national leadership and with those destabilizing influences with respect to the eroding confidence of the afghan national forces. general, you said generally they honor the agreement but i can tell you with two real-life examples where they have that they slit the throat of a pregnant woman excuse me that we were working on she was in the p1 category they also slept on —- slit the throat and they sent us to the
900 people that we are trying to get out of the country that taliban may be doing a better job to market the part that we know every single day people are dying that have a legitimate reason to be out of the country. so with respect to the broader agreement can you give other examples? you said generally adhered to can you give me some examples that's not the case? >> i apologize if i misspoke i met they only complied with one of the many not attacking those but the others were clear violation. >> that is consistent with light general millie testified a couple of weeks ago. so we cannot say the agreement did not have terms or conditions and they broke that
so now you testified before some of the decisions and the recommendations of the remaining 25 troops predated your confirmation but after you were confirmed where you briefed on that and to what extent did these proposals get considered when we saw the eroding process in afghanistan? or was it covered ground at that point not considered when you guide and at the end of april? >> by the time i got in it was executing there was not a major relitigation of reversing course as you heard from general miller and in his view once we did the retrograde because we were already so small and compact so we had to have the retrograde done by the beginning of july the remaining mission was to protect the embassy that's why
we had a few hundred troops there and we put in a couple hundred additional troops to assist with post air support in the july august timeframe as the taliban was making gains. but that essentially was a short term measure the plan was still to stick to the august and that was not to the best of my knowledge. >> i look forward to the committee based on the oversight hearings. >> thank you mr. chairman the us wanted afghanistan one —- went into almost exactly 20 years ago it took us only 20 months to dissolve on —- dislodge and then three months to reach them out of the mountains but then we just stayed we started to nation build and to have an afghan national army and then to
target their enemies not our enemies may have the underlying political dynamics and those that are in search of osama bin laden and al qaeda to create new enemies instead the hardest place was actually not fertile ground before our arrival that with each civilian we accidentally killed. we killed many. we drove friends and families into the arms of the taliban. the opium field created another dilemma. we would bomb or destroy the opium crops those farmers into the arms of the taliban or allow the opium to grow in have them shake down the farmers and the proceeds to
finance operations are we give the farmers fertilizer to grow something else and let's watch the farmers so fertilizer to the makers of the ied. then we flooded the country with billions of dollars with the epidemic. >> the examples that you use we've never know as much about afghanistan as we got a dead
in afghanistan. who watched various government officials enriched themselves through corruption and who suffer the most? innocent afghan civilians brown university estimates approximately 47000 afghan civilians were killed along with another 66000 afghan military and police and while all of this was happening in creating the very conditions that reused to justify the continued presence military officials came before this committee one after another time after time and said we are making progress we are turning the corner general millie told the committee last month that our presence would have been needed
indefinitely. do you agree with that assessment? >> what does that mean for the taliban and al qaeda? >> we would have thousands of people, probably more than 2500 at one time as they continue to lose or casualties with the assessment? sending tens of billions of dollars every year and also sacrificing our servicemembers and that would have continued. >> if our presence would have been required indefinitely that was on years of military assessment and then it should humble everyone in this room it should cause all of us to reflect on how badly everyone got it wrong and above all it
should be a call for congress in this committee in particular to start exercising more oversight with the military operations instead of waiting until it is over and politically advantageous to do so. >> you testified to senator tillis to in the closed session you dismissively told senator ernst you were on your couch during that period so while you were on your couch we preparing for the confirmation hearing. >> it was after my confirmation hearing i was preparing as best i could with open source materials. >> from the time you are nominated or confirmed did you speak with the national security advisor jake
sullivan? >> i don't think so. >> i was under instruction did not to do anything that would presume confirmation. >> if you're following the news through open sources and then through september 11? >> april 14 when it was announced to the nation. >> from your couch what was your opinion if we should withdraw the troops or have a residual presence? >> as i said in my testimony think it was in exchange i was supportive of conditions based drawdown most prominently on a peace agreement between the pop on —- and president bidens withdrawal comport with our drawdown quick. >> it did not. >> once you were confirmed did you express a personal opinion similar to what this committee has heard from secretary
austen and generals miller and mckenzie and millie that we should maintain a small residual true presence in afghanistan? >> the debate had lived on and we were executing on that decision i was involved in what our presence should look like at the airport to make sure we could safeguard the embassy and i was involved in the oversight. >> so you did or did not have a personal opinion on that matter? >> my personal opinion never change by the time he came to office we made a decision. >> do you agree september 11 was an appropriate date to withdraw quick. >> i have no insight. >> since you have been confirmed never once have you been to anyone else in the administration my september 11 was chosen? in retrospect you believe that was a wise date by which to
withdraw from afghanistan? >> i don't know spent the biden administration said there is no intelligence indicating the afghan national army would collapse so quickly we also surprised by which the afghan security forces collapsed quick. >> we were all surprised. >> and from the intelligence community shorten the timeline of their assessment how long the afghan government could survive for a matter of years to a matter of weeks at the end of july quick. >> and by august on the eve on the fall of kabul they were down but yes it went from years and months two weeks and months and then days and then weeks. >> there is a brief pause at the bar graham airbase to
decide whether or not they should proceed. obviously they did. is it your opinion in late june with those conditions in afghanistan the closure about graham air force base quick. >> it was general miller's recommendation and my recollection is the president of course instructed the department to leave afghanistan there is no server on —- scenario we would leave and that residual where the concentration of the few hundred forces beyond august would have been concentrated. >> and 2011 you stated the following despite the often narrative the underlying security situation remain strong. fortunately not long after that statement and then that rampage against syria and iraq
and that is what necessary did a counterterrorist operation you cannot perceive the unraveling of iraq are there any others about to cause national security debacle? >> i don't know i think we are focused on the counterterrorism front on somalia we continue to have to be vigilant in iraq and syria and yemen and as we talk in this hearing in afghanistan and even and greater challenges. >> let's hope we perceive them better than we have in the past.
>> starting with bangladesh. >> that is a reminder that this information spread on social media all too often results and real-world violence. also the political stability of an ally of security development and humanitarian assistance as well as disaster relief some as you consider our strategic interest in a regional security context how do you prioritize the information domain? and can us security assistance in south and central asia enhance our allies resilience to information is the issue that i raised in this room and
from the general as well that love to hear your thoughts. >> i agree that information operation enveloped everything. they enable the adversaries a violent extremist whether they are one sect or religion and social media platforms don't do nearly enough to crackdown on misinformation along the lines you suggested and there are things the department of defense can do to help our partners especially in the cyberrealm to coordinate with the counter isis campaign for example of coordinating the pushback on propaganda and misinformation but a lot of that flies outside of the dod realm. >> that plays a pretty vital role obviously if you can counter these activities it becomes less vulnerable to external influence from the
chinese as well as the russians then he would acknowledge that piece of it needs to be what the department of defense is looking and particular. india's policies toward afghanistan have been conceived largely to the lens of competition and proxy conflict with pakistan. and it stands to reason no deli on —- new dilly - - new delhi with those terrorist groups that are oriented towards cashmere but with joint cooperation and interoperability and the fact that india is the only designated major defense partner of the united states it is important to understand how the view toward afghanistan has and will evolve so before you answer
i'm not asking you to speak but for any insights you have gained from cochairing us defend yet —- india policy group this month. >> i've had a number of counters with my indian colleagues and i would say a couple of things. number one come i'm sure you are aware they are concerned about the situation in afghanistan with the counterterrorism concerns they want to work with us sharing intelligence and cooperating where we can. but in line with your question there is a tremendous conversions right now that provides not just afghanistan but a broader rate in the indian ocean and as it relates to the broader indo pacific. >> prior to the taliban takeover russia bolstered the
security posture on our military bases and leadership of that organization makes russia the primary security from afghanistan into central asia so my question for you is the d confliction mechanism for over the horizon similar to syria? >> senator i think we can go into more detail in closed session, but the relationship with russia is the nexus of the counterterrorist goals and objectives are intertwined we can go into more detail. >> i like forward to that and i look forward to your answers. >> let me recognize with the vote that is ongoing and then to report appropriately in my absence. >> thank you mr. chairman of
i've been listening to all of this am struck by the fact that several people have referenced a miscalculation if it is the intelligence community and with that communication of intelligence it does seem like the last 20 years or so we have been miscalculating on the wrong side of the capabilities whether afghanistan and iraq to reconstitute isis or isis-k and it only answer going forward but management of expectations is part of the formula and i worry a little bit about that. and then i put in the form of a question as an honest almost spontaneous question.
do you see feel it is a feeling or deliberate do you get a sense of political pressure in your job to communicate something other than the worst news possible at any given moment? >> from a military standpoint do you feel that as a political nominee quick. >> not personally but i tried to call it is a see it. it is true what you said at the outset. there has been serial miscalculation over 20 decades. >> there is a lot of consequence to that and we can have time to devote that better but with that miscalculation of isis-k and then talk about what we do know or what you might know if it's not later in the closed session so as isis-k part of that calculation how are they
financially quick. >> and i have a precise number what is in the bank i don't think they are nearly as well resourced as iraq and syria and with that 2014 and 2015 when isis controlled all those i can —- wheel wells is nothing like that. but for the moment isis-k is focused on creating havoc with in afghanistan and then they do have a cadre of a few thousand votes which will love to conduct external attacks linked globally so we have to be vigilant that a subset of isis-k could develop the capability to strike outward toward us homeland and we have to be poised to disrupt that so it never comes to pass. >> so obviously that can be part of a strategy for access
generosity to require both financial office on —- resources how do you sense that is going for them? >> i'm not seen a lot of evidence going back to the rack example isis good knockoff of ink and hundreds of millions of dollars of iraqi money there has been a version of that but the taliban is committed to go after isis-k i don't think it is a willpower question. the taliban capability they are intent on doing it so there's not huge gains we have seen those who have carried out bombings and we should expect some of that would continue but from us national interest perspectives but to be on the subset that could m&a outwards.
>> and so raising havoc is that inspiring to others? it could be al qaeda for that matter but whether it is financial resources quick. >> i do think that something we have to watch. so for others to flow into afghanistan al qaeda or isis-k it could be nigeria somalia or syria with a galvanizing effect on the internet that inspires on the department of homeland security is focused on. >> are you adding to any of that quick. >> so the threat itself
internally or externally focused that can intraday that and the capability but right now to be internally focused to be externally focused so our efforts in the months going head to continue to improve the architecture is to ensure that external capability never comes to fruition. >> on behalf of the chair, senator? >> thank you senator. i appreciate that for having this critically important hearing in afghanistan also think into the troops serving our nation after 20 years and their families who brought them and serve alongside with them. looking to the head of south and central asia also looking
back at how we got to this .20 years of decisions plenty of responsibility to go around particularly to the prior administration what set us up on the path to the taliban but nevertheless and over the past few months despite the efforts to save lives and with multiple individuals to freedom we have failed so many the american people deserve accountability and demand answers. like others on the committee i'm concerned about the regional implications of withdrawal and security and counterterrorism and american interest. i would like to follow up on some of the questions i asked secretary austin last month but didn't have time to answer. and the presence in
afghanistan. and with the executing and then to fully address and counter the influence that everyone was talking about afghanistan so general be can start with you. >> so no two of these organizations are the same and with those variables with the effort to ensure that you continue to disrupt because they don't pose a threat to the partners someone my perspective and the resources necessary to prosecute those
based on the recommendations when i combat commanders to the secretary of defense to ensure from the authorities and the resources standpoint were posture to do that. and then to routinely conduct operations in syria and iraq where the threats are emanating to make sure they are out there in terms of afghanistan we will talk for those specific assets that are applied to that. and i will defer to him and his thoughts with the broader strategy of violent extremist organizations. >> i think in afghanistan in terms of layers, ideally you would have partners on the ground. that doesn't happen. that's not the case in afghanistan this is not the first time.
olivia is a good example and on the 2019 timeframe with boots on the ground the then we have these assets in the gulf and we have national technical means that gives insight into the organizations and with the regional actors and international partners to share counterterrorism objectives seeking to build out a more robust ecosystem over the rise which would include regional players and we can talk more the closed session and we also need to know it's not on the ground but the cyberrealm with finances and through sanctions and information operations.
>> so how can you assess the collapse of the afghan government with isis so do you think afghanistan would see a surge of foreign buyers coming in quick. >> it's possible and we need to be vigilant against the possibility. my read based on the intelligence community assessment the taliban is not keen with those arab foreign fighters in particular to repopulate isis-k or al qaeda and in particular isis-k because i mentioned they are mortal enemies. >> my time is expired and i yield back. thank you. >> let me recognize the senator. >> thank you mr.'s chairman talk about taiwan and our policy 20 years ago president
bush said in an interview that he was the full force of us military would come and defend taiwan in the art that was very critical in this case president bush and with the us credibility of the allies and some confusion of the pacific rim senator biden said and that was just out in the region and that was on military contingencies but the president said we will defend
taiwan publicly is that are new policy? >> the white house clarify the president was not trying to establish new policy it remains. >> you are the secretary of defense for policy. >> from the white house, the view is our policy remains under the taiwan relations act we are prepared to ensure that taiwan can defend itself and we also have the capabilities to deter and prevent coercion. >> so you agree with president biden 20 years ago to say that his statement and his inattention to detail to damage us credibility with our allies and some confusion throughout the pacific rim? >> so they know that the
department is the challenge. >> with a budget relative to china's budget. when national democrats then you see the blue those are the cuts and then to put on your budget so one thing certain they said increase of gdp growth. >> the one issue i keep hearing about whether allies is the prioritization of the military if you look at the biden budget is 6 trillion-dollar budget the two agencies that they cut that they are proposing to cut is dod and homeland security. those are cuts. that is your budget that is
what matters to the chinese more than anything. that is president biden's budget bernie sanders budget, senator schumer's budget. but some have recently this committee and the house committee refutes that pretty dramatically with the budgets we have put forward with the nda aid to increase defense spending with a real increase of 3 percent that would move from 715,000,000,740,000,000,000 does that department now agree in a bipartisan way this committee and the house armed services committee said we shared not do that. that is a bad message to the chinese. do you agree with what we did with this committee budget submission? >> that is within congress prerogative to do what you
did. from the department's perspective, china is the number one challenge but the secretary of defense to be laser focus. >> . >> and that is the pacing challenge i know it's a difficult issue because you have to support the president's budget and the members of uniform military don't supportive but they have to constitutionally by then your personal opinion would you rather have the house and the senate and rather have that topline? >> my personal opinion is yes given the modernization bills and those challenges that we will have in the future, i agree.
>> predictable and sustainable is most important to the department of defense with the modernization bill coming in the coming years 740 is a better number. in my personal opinion. >> thank you for your honesty. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> senator duckworth. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you for your support of the afghan study proposal with the backing of a number of my colleagues. i'm also looking forward to the national defense authorization act and then to confirm the support of the independent commission because it's just too important to get wrong. we'll fail to understand the cause of failure but if we
don't look at the role of all government agencies involved and we have to start with julia nonpartisan independent body keep generations from repeating past mistakes we don't resource the commission appropriately and we went to look like we are taking action but not the work thoroughly that we waste everyone's time even more convinced we will need a nonpartisan independent commission for the entire scope of the wars in afghanistan thank you for your support for independent commission. can you please elaborate on these exercises and why they are not sufficient and with the independent commission looking across government
agencies what about strategic planners and policymakers quick. >> thank you. you alluded to much of this looking at chair millie that just from the missions that we start off with the counterterrorism mission moving into a nation building mission and we invaded iraq two years into the operations in afghanistan. we never dealt with the sanctuary adequately as discussed several times. legitimacy and how we mirror image both the government and then afghan national security forces. we didn't understand the culture as well as we should have or the will or that component as well. but there are several that i am omitting it is much larger than dod or interagency. it has to be a whole of government approach so as many elements to look at this independently, it will always
be good for the nation going forward. >> thank you. thank you for your statement of support. before you are confirm much of the work focused on the analysis of the grand strategy post 9/11. and even thinking of many different agencies that shape our national security. to that result in the actions of the dod alone for the actions of department of state and intelligence community and administrations offer that outcome in afghanistan? >> it's important to have scope and scale that matches so we need to look holistic we at 20 years with the interagency involvement from economic development perspective and intelligence and counterterrorism perspective to include those pieces outside of the dod lane that frankly it is an
opportunity to explore the mentality and overall approach after 9/11 and how that manifested in 20 years in afghanistan. >> so how does this work of the committee deal with policymakers? we understand of what happened post 9/11 but how do the lessons learned with the independent commission for planners and policymakers quick. >> it is crucial it's a major opportunity to take a holistic view the department of defense have different time frames. . . . .
>> the other thing i would add that needs to be part of this when you look at the nature of nato and coalition, there has to be a partner in publishing aspect to that commission report. >> i agree with you because we serve expect partners to do a little more and they were not as able to help maintain afghanistan as we hoped. thank you for your testimony today. we prosecuted these strategies every consider consequences and we will be doomed to be repeated. i urge my colleagues on this act, we owe it to our constituents and the veterans have served honorably and families who lost loved ones we owe it to future generations of americans service members.
think. >> senator scott. >> and gifford given the president committed to evacuate all americans before military was be, what you say excessive evacuation would have included all americans being evacuated before troops left? >> defined success is hard and i don't expect talk about and debated and what the decision and recommendation by the military to leave but historically have gone back and looked i'm not even sure is an example where we done we brought american citizens out of the country so given remote nature of afghanistan in various locations the american citizens, i'm not even sure we could have gotten one 100% out before the
31st. >> the president to commit if we would get all of the american citizens out before we would remove troops. >> you think it should be the policy of the united states we will remove less military and assess bearing down on us before we evacuate american citizens and partners in the future? >> it would be hard to quantify hypothetical because there are so many variables in this and no future will be identical to the decision and recommendation by the joint chiefs and determine to depart on the 31st took until account the situation on the ground for this particular situation in the calculus pose risk to american citizens higher had we stayed beyond the 31st and we did on the 31st to include the risk of troopers on the ground.
>> you listen to the president say our troops would not leave before american citizens were evacuated, but if you are military what there may be some who have have you are committed to continue to bring american citizens out has been informed. >> i assume most leaderships understood the risk of removing military before evacuating lands and partners, did you see the analysis did you want the administration of the risk of bringing out troops and equipment before americans were evacuated? >> did we provide that risk? >> did you one the administration if we did it that way we drop troops out first before everybody was evacuated and the fact that we could
evacuate people earlier and we didn't, was prepared and armed to provide risk associated with the withdrawal. >> the department or pentagon choose to rely on teledyne for security at the airport? >> as we withdrew, they were part of security ecosystem. >> who make the decisions, state or pentagon? >> a combination of commanders on the ground through the chain of command. >> commanders on the ground made the decision taliban was due security knowing tolerance
history? >> was it deemed it had to be a relationship we had to work through and whether they state on the outside of kabul or the outskirts once the collapse occurred, that was the outer perimeter, our security forces outside where we were. >> was the president warned about relying on the taliban for security around the airport? >> i'm not aware whether he was informed that are not. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. senator scott, senator blumenthal. >> thanks, mr. chairman. thank you for your continuing amount of this issue and having this hearing today. last week i had the opportunity to visit want to go, the date of
my visit housing 4410 afghan men, women and children able to escape afghanistan at maximum capacity of now 5000 people, a number that will probably soon reach. i want to commend the extraordinary work done by the u.s. marine corps at quantico and their partners for other military branches as well as civilians from the state department and others but during our briefings, we have the opportunity not only to meet the marines focusing these afghan guests, they call them but also civilian agencies with resettlement and we were with the people, the refugees
throughout the state, and who have managed to avoid and threaten to many remainder, i met with the family of five able to be safe on charter flights, they left withdrawals, completed our withdrawal and military facilitating, i was incredibly moved to meet with family. it happened by coincidence the family was chosen to meet with me, beneficiaries of the flights working day and night to facilitate. sappington remembers of their family are seeking assistance so they can leave afghanistan and other family members great
danger. more needs to be done be safe with them. after my visit, i have significant concerns about a resettlement, who are tragically planning the execution evacuation mission, the airlift of 120,000 people accomplished even though many remain, we cannot rely on optimistic expectations. we must plan for reality and be ready to use, be ready for the worst case situation, we were told afghans what depart for resettlement three to four weeks and i don't believe that. that can be possible. i visited, there have been 52
for sure, when the perfect not only mother and child from being able to travel and resettle but the entire family unit, just an example and i think we need to focus on the fact that resettlement simply is not keeping up with the pace of new arrivals. these locations the capacity, we face a looming crisis of afghan guests pleaded quickly, one or two days for intake, they await settlement opportunities. currently the weather is good and a temperate one but it will change.
life will become more and more. for housing, the kind necessary in the inevitability in the pioneer city currently housing approximately 1000 individuals so before my time expires, i want to close by saying we face 75, 80000 resettlement of those afghan refugees, a total of 120,000 evacuated, we have failed to provide resources so far that will enable resettlement. it's a looming crisis and i'm
going to ask for your response in writing from of my time has expired health medical care, housing and other services will be provided and what will be done to ensure resettlement. >> thank you. senator blackford. >> think it is determined. you're going to recognize my questions because i asked them in the hearing in september and you didn't want to answer them then select take another round, another go at it. undersecretary of defense for policy or in the time between president biden's inauguration in your confirmation, did you ever have a conversation with general scott miller about the future of afghanistan?
>> no you did not? okay. during our september testimony on the topic, you told senator ernst basically didn't have the opportunity to participate in the decision process on afghanistan because you are at home sitting on your couch. we are all aware you are pending confirmation prior to late april but where you actually at home sitting on the couch or were you involved in the president's decision calculus on when and how to withdraw from afghanistan? >> i had no interactions with the arbitration, i was trying not to presume confirmation. >> you ever part of a rock wall in which general miller wasn't. >> the rock drill with may 8, a week after i took office. >> so you were present for that may rock wall? >> the drill on the retrograde, i was. >> okay, thank you. we are concerned about, i want
to hear from tennesseans, you all have a tendency to be pointing this up a trump administration saying they don't know how to lead but you've taken over and what you have done failed to lead. the dod leadership is something people in tennessee have a lot of concern about. they are seeing apathy, perceiving apathy and perceiving self-righteous indignation that individuals or the military question you also i want to read for you portions of a letter i received in my office i'm reading from the letter. take a framework trying to find the answers about the horrible afghanistan withdrawal. i saw a news report, suicide bomber who took my son's life 12
others was a prisoner at bagram. not only then did we leave all of our military equipment but we these prisoners in bottom and now we find out taliban released them which is not a surprise. i have not expressed my anger or political thought through this time but now i hear this coward had been locked up someone on our side made the decision to let the bad guys evaporate into the wind. it frustrates me beyond belief. please continue to try to find out who's responsible for the decision to run from barb rumford and sounds like that decision is directly related to the deaths of my son 12 other u.s. service members. i am duty-bound to my
constituents, tennesseans and military families from our state who have reached out to me about this horrific debacle in afghanistan. i need to ask you a few questions. bear in mind you are not speaking to me, you are speaking to them so throttle any animosity you have toward me and to our service members who want these answers. who specifically is responsible for the decisions to withdraw u.s. forces from bagram airfield? >> when the president decided we would withdraw from afghanistan, who were going to leave the bottom as a consequent of leaving afghanistan. >> so it was the president's decision?
>> the president directed we leave afghanistan and general miller executed retrograde that included this? >> okay, the president. who specifically is responsible for the decision to leave paris prisoners in bottom despite impending advance of the taliban forces? >> the person you're speaking of is happy airfield, is off the airfield and transfer to the afghans in. [two bells tolling] so it wasn't part of the retrograde to transfer that, it was transferred eight years prior. >> okay so you're saying leaving barbara had no impact at all on the prisoners being free. is that the position this administration that you have nothing to do with this? >> people of good character and judgment click disagree, i think afghan national security forces had control of the present and were handed control of barbara airfield some of the taliban overran the forces, they took over the airfield in the prison.
>> was a decision made to give up barbara airfield and execute speedy withdrawal from afghanistan? >> the decision was to leave which means we would leave bottom and the retrograde plan included leaving barbara. >> thank you. >> countries like china have long benefit presence in afghanistan and stability we've provided in the region cloth the conclusion of us-led operations forced countries in the region to reassess policies toward afghanistan. patient including china and russia developing closer relationships with the taliban. china in particular sought to call attention to eight donations and pushed the un to lift sanctions without asking much accountability from the taliban so how would you assess
china's intentions and priorities in respect to afghanistan and what concerns do you have for holly's impact u.s. interests? >> the are important questions, i think 90s quite worried at the moment, they benefited from our presence in afghanistan the practically rail against the trade interventions, they are worried about growing instability on their border, china says share a narrow border with afghanistan. they are worried withdrawal from afghanistan ballack to refocus elsewhere in the pacific checking back to challenge they present. we know that. you are right china is trying to influence events in afghanistan through economics, they are not able to do that unilaterally because of un sanctions, it's about revived ministration not to recognize the taliban government or lift sanctions and let conditions the taliban are
leaving. >> how should u.s. policy toward afghanistan and china's activities the into the broader context of our strategic competition with china? >> we have to be mindful of competing with china in a lot of places. i would not avoid afghanistan off the top of the list. first, we have to focus on the western pacific and the indian ocean and places in africa and elsewhere for the chinese are seeking to turn facilities into military bases and other things so we should have an eye on what china is doing in afghanistan power not make it the focal.of my strategy and checking back. >> thank you. general mingus, u.s. military relationship with allies and south and central area critical to regional stability and national security in many of these relationships are
strengthened to joint exercises and training in these activities can serve as a deterrent to regional aggression. please continue to see russia live exercises with regional actors including joint military exercise near the northern afghanistan who's becca sent this summer, similarly china conducted joint military exercise in august. from an operational standpoint, are we doing rough militarily to train, equip and prepare south and central asia partners? >> thank you, that's one of the things doctor has alluded to would like to talk about in closed session and the outcomes of fat and we are looking at ways to expand in central asian states. >> i'm looking forward to hearing more about that in
closed session. , arthur talk about china -- actually, let's switch and talk about taliban. in media interviews and public discourse, calorie attempted to downplay the threat posed by isis including recent attacks. they've tried to play up their own efforts to counter isis, pointing to arrests and suggesting they averted isis planes, welcome we learned from the fact that the taliban is more interested putting up positive spins on its ability to govern the night are working to address known threats to both afghan international security? >> i don't think we should trust
the taliban, whatever they say, we have to watch what they do. the only thing we can have faith in his they will try to advance their own narrow interests, as it relates to isis k problem set, they do not have interest in isis k establishing afghanistan either to destabilize afghanistan for conduct external operation. i believe the taliban is motivated to go after isis k if their ability to do so i think his duty determined. >> have we seen any success, is there any intel you could talk about that shows success with them going after isis k? >> i think we have seen instances going after isis k, during the war there were battles at times between taliban and isis k as well but i do want to keep in mind as it relates to
the streams we are focused on from isis k, it's the ones that might be projected from afghanistan, who cannot seem that materializing would not count on the taliban to be the ones responsible for disrupting that, will have our own capabilities. >> what can we do to contain that threat? >> we should continue to engage the taliban we had go half a couple weeks ago, high levels, to hold the taliban accountable for their commitments under the february 2020 agreement to not allow afghanistan to be a safe haven for international terrorism. taliban tells us that remain committed but it's not just their words matter, it will be fair action. >> thank you. >> i understand august 18 from the council general sent the following e-mail to his team,
i'm going to quote it for you. present biden phoned ambassador wilson with the following directives who do clear and enoch was? anyone with about form of id should be given permission to go on a plane. if that person plausibly falls into the categories, we will evaluate. u.s. citizens and fpr's intermediate families, those entitled to as iv and afghans at risk. number two, families including women and children should be allowed through and held to fill out the planes. number three, total to the u.s. must exceed the number of seats available, err on the side of excess. i'm still quoting, clear discretion and direction and provide special consideration for women and children, i expect light volume will increase. are you aware of guns to
evacuate afghans who might plausibly about these categories, fill seats regardless whether the passengers were eligible or not an error on the side of excess? are you familiar with this? >> i can't speak to that specific engagement but our priorities in that timeframe first and foremost american citizens and bring an employed staff state department and other agencies and departments and others with documents but was the case as we were bringing good horses", we have excess capacity to bring people out so what the president was signaling was if there are other clearly afghans at risk we can safely bring into the airport and get off the airfield, we should do that math test on the e-mail says, it clearly says plausibly, flights need to be filled out. he says we need to err on the
side of excess, we now know we got major problems of the people brought to this country, evacuated and brought to this country. this seems to indicate the administration, if they plausibly fall, get them on the plane, is not wrong? >> i was always foremost in our mind but the fighting wasn't there. >> when did that happen? >> the lily pads, these works -- >> consisted of what? >> carter, kuwait, iran, ran china and elsewhere, essentially teams at the dod would collect biometric information, biographic information and the information would be sent through the tvp and fbi databases in only people who cleared the vetting so they didn't have contacts with the
taliban for al qaeda or isis were to be manifested and brought to the united states and people who required further processing were not brought to the u.s. was ever in prison setting been? >> all of it was in person. >> that's not interviews, that's fingerprinting so where there ever in percent -- that's screening, was there in person vetting? >> where there was sufficient information or derogatory information -- derogatory information could be future the same name was somebody or your phone number touched a phone number of a phone number. where there was derogatory information and yes, follow-up interviews and additional study was done. >> at the lily pads? in the u.s., too or just lily pads? >> there may have been instances where they received additional fighting product directly to the dhs.
>> i'm talking to dhs believe me. what dhs says, there's never any in person vetting anywhere. not the lily pads on the u.s., your testimony here says there was in person vetting. he sat down and did interviews, is that right? >> my understanding is at the lily pad, cutter, bahrain, kuwait etc., those who pop derogatory information, if they can be cleared because ours a misunderstanding, someone with the same name, if it required further investigation, there were times where the fbi spoke to the individuals. >> he testified in september those evacuated about 6000 american citizens, he testified in september as iv's for about 12 or 1300, that leaves 116,700 people based on form 24000 you've been offering. 116,000, 700 people not citizens
not as ivs, we just don't know much about, who were those people? so we are all working off the same set of numbers, we evacuated around 2000 u.s. embassy personnel, we evacuated 5530 american citizens, we evacuated 3335 third country nationals something about us someone who works for another embassy, not an afghan. we evacuated during the neo 2496 siv holders and we evacuated 64052 other afghans at risk, some of those on our picchu or p1 or p2 refugee roles. ...
>> 84 percent of the people we brought out were afghans. >> my time is expired i have a number of questions for you for the record spirit there's a lot to sort through here. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you for your service and thank you for being here today. it has been a long day but i want to talk about the delhi agreement and the timeline. i would think you would say
there are four main parts of the delhi agreement one was a comprehensive condition with withdrawal of american troops. president biden says september 11. we talked about that how long before the taliban violated the terms of the agreement in your mind quick. >> it is a really meant testified from the very beginning the only part that was not attacking us forces the rest of the agreement they did not stick with. >> me first, they did some damage obviously over in afghanistan. given that the taliban broke the deal so quickly, did you change your policy assessment on may 1st? >> by the time i came into office the decision was already made.
my position that i testified during my confirmation to other conditions based withdrawal. my personal position never change but by the time i came into office the president already made his decision and that would not be real litigated. >> but they kept breaking their promises the first full month. i have a couple clients to show you. do things get better in the second month in june? they captured 69 districts in june. it was starting to ramp up. not only do they capture 69 districts but also vehicles and all kinds of stuff. did you rethink your policy at that time considering it was ramping up? did you gave your preference upstream to those needed to listen? >> you are right the security situation deteriorated in june got worse in july catastrophically worse in
august. we are focusing on the retrograde that was the direction from the president. >> moving on to july how many districts to the taliban capture in july? >> i have a reason. >> 64. >> the president said i am brief daily on battlefield updates. 's a president biden knew how badly it was going. it was wrapping up in afghanistan but yet we gave up the bar graham airfield that month. >> that was to be called to be given up in early july. >> by the third month they have enter the capitals and then they control 223 districts. denominated districts are in afghanistan? >> by that time it must've been more than half. >> 407 total and 223 districts they had overtaken. so then the fourth month on the job, august, after three
straight months of bloodshed did you suggest changing course? in the president directed we leave afghanistan. there were conversations whether we should position forces to provide more close air support and we did that and the july and august timeframe putting additional forces for additional recovery so we could do more air strikes but the course of the policy was set in april and we carried out that policy. >> it got worse. biden was ramping up and to recap in three and a half months that you were there , due to this administration's incompetence we saw complete collapse of afghanistan in that short period of time. wasting 20 years of blood and treasure since he took office
to me america is laissez-faire allies are less safe and once again we have to confront radical islamic terrorism somewhere down the road. i don't understand how those four months we make a timeline and then get away from it. from the beginning can you tell me what time of the year the taliban tradition would counterattack our forces? >> the summer fighting season typically starts in the spring and a plan throughout the winter and build up supplies and it typically starts in april or may and runs through the father is not to suggest there's not fighting during the winter. it does subside that given amount passes in the snow and the challenges that is typically why the fighting does subside a little bit in the winter. >> it wouldn't surprise you that they say we have more fighting in the summer?
so why didn't we reduced our presence in the fall and winter when the weather was worse? other than when they were away from home congregating and ready to do whatever they needed to do to fight take over afghanistan? >> the timeline for the departure was set. i was not part of that deliberation. that i don't know the rationale the on the president calculated the longer we stay beyond the deadline of the delhi agreement. >> was there any military talk on that you can remember? >> there was. and mr. chairman i was not present with a personal recommendation but the state testified the personal feelings that the 2500 should
have stayed and become a conditions based withdrawal but as pointed out with the president was wrestling with that was extended toward the end of the summer deadline in the potential for the re- commencing of hostilities and that was the strategic dilemma. >> thank you for your service and time. i apologize. >> the committee will stand in recess and we convene at 2:15 p.m. for a closed session. i'm sorry. 12:15 p.m. i have been corrected appropriately. the committee will stand in recess. [inaudible conversations]upfron-
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