The Biden administration failed to plan properly and didn’t foresee the rapid collapse of Kabul during the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal, a damning State Department report has confirmed.
The investigation found serious pitfalls in leadership and questions about who was in charge before and during the mayhem, which resulted in the deaths of 13 US service members and hundreds of Afghan civilians.
The Biden administration publicly released only half of the 87-page report laying out the disastrous end of 20 years of U.S. involvement on the Friday before the July 4 holiday.
It will likely lead to fury from Republicans and veterans who have long accused the Biden administration of trying to shrug off its actions in the build-up to August 2021.
The conclusion confirmed what critics have long thought, that there was a litany of strategic failures as the Taliban overran cities and there wasn’t enough consideration given to ‘worst-case scenarios’.
As a result, thousands of allies who helped the U.S. in the war were left behind, and there was chaos at Hamid Karzai International Airport as men, women and children tried desperately to flee.
The Biden administration failed to plan properly and didn’t foresee the rapid collapse of Kabul during the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal, a damning State Department report has concluded.
Even though planning for the evacuation of Kabul began ‘some time’ beforehand, the State Department was ‘hindered by the fact that it was unclear who in the Department had the lead.’
In April, National Security spokesman John Kirby blamed the Trump administration for the failures and said ‘all this talk of chaos, I just don’t see it’.
The review repeatedly blames the administrations of both former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden for their efforts before and after the August 2021 departure of U.S. forces from Kabul.
It had released a National Security Council review of the withdrawal on the day before Good Friday and the Easter weekend but declined to issue internal Pentagon and State Department assessments.
A State Department task force helped bring out nearly 2,000 Afghan citizens in July and early August 2021, weeks before the August 31, 2021, deadline the U.S. set for withdrawal.
They were eligible for processing under a special U.S. visa program for Afghans.
But State ‘failed to establish a broader task force as the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated,’ the report says.
And as the military planned for an evacuation of American civilians and Afghan allies, ‘it was unclear who in the Department had the lead,’ it says.
‘The decisions of both President Trump and President Biden to end the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan had serious consequences for the viability of the Afghan government and its security,’ the report says.
‘Those decisions are beyond the scope of this review, but the (review) team found that during both administrations there was insufficient senior-level consideration of worst-case scenarios and how quickly those might follow.’
As the Taliban took key cities far faster than most U.S. officials expected and the fate of Kabul became unclear, the report says, State Department personnel began receiving an ‘overwhelming volume of incoming calls and messages’ from lawmakers, other government agencies, and the public pleading for help saving people trapped in the country.
Thirteen American service members died when the suicide bomber detonated explosives packed with ball bearings amid the chaos at the city’s airport
The US Marine Corps posted a photo to Twitter of the flag-draped caskets of their fallen brethren killed in the suicide bomb attack in Kabul, after the coffins arrived back on home soil on August 29, 2021
The investigation found serious pitfalls in leadership and questions about who was in charge before and during the mayhem, which resulted in the deaths of 13 US service members and hundreds of Afghan civilians
Staff working to facilitate the evacuation also faced confusing guidance that wasn’t attuned to real-world conditions at the time, according to the report.
State has taken lessons from the failures of Afghanistan into account when evacuating people before and during the subsequent war in Ukraine and as a crisis developed in Sudan, according to a senior State Department official who briefed reporters Friday.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the department.
Officials declined to say why they had released the report just before a holiday weekend.