US House Foreign Affairs announces first hearing to review chaotic troop withdrawal

US forces standing in front of a crowd that is waiting for their evacuation at Kabul airport on August 16, 2021.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday night announced its first hearing of its review of the chaotic US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and said it will call a number of witnesses to testify.

The hearing will start on March 8 and is expected to so far hear testimony from leaders of two groups that organized charter flights for the evacuation process immediately after the collapse of the former government in August of 2021.

According to the official announcement of the hearings, posted to the committee’s website, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said “the full Committee will convene a hearing entitled ‘During and After the Fall of Kabul: Examining the Administration’s Emergency Evacuation from Afghanistan’.

He added that the hearing will be “on Wednesday, March 8th to examine the administration’s disastrous emergency evacuation from Afghanistan.”

This comes after Republican legislators launched an investigation into the chaotic United States military withdrawal from Afghanistan, which allowed an immediate takeover by the Taliban and led to scenes of thousands of desperate people storming Kabul airport, some clinging to departing US planes as they rolled down the runway.

In January, McCaul said he had written to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting an array of records, from intelligence assessments to communications with the Taliban.

McCaul said it was “absurd and disgraceful” that US President Joe Biden’s administration “continues to withhold information related to the withdrawal”.

“In the event of continued noncompliance, the committee will use the authorities available to it to enforce these requests as necessary, including through a compulsory process,” he said.
The committee has made clear early this year that it hopes to secure more cooperation from the Biden administration to evaluate the exit.

“The Biden administration’s, and specifically the State Department’s, refusal to provide Congress with the necessary information regarding America’s unconditional withdrawal from Afghanistan has hampered the Minority Committee’s ability to complete a thorough investigation,” a report on the issue stated on the one year anniversary last year of the withdrawal of troops.

Other agencies have similarly complained about resistance to their oversight efforts from the Biden administration.

One of these agencies has been the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) who has notified lawmakers on numerous occasions that it has faced trouble securing information from both the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as the Department of Defense.