WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, questioned Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, and Commander of U.S. Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie at a Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday about the Biden Administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In her opening remarks, Ernst stated that President Biden prioritized a cheap political victory—a withdrawal timed to the 20th anniversary of 9/11—and executed his vision with little regard for American lives or the real threats we face, and the loss of our servicemembers and abandonment of Americans and Afghan allies last month was an unforced, disgraceful humiliation that didn’t have to happen.
Ernst asked Secretary Austin if President Biden or any of his national security advisors expressed any military and diplomatic conditions for the American withdrawal from Afghanistan beyond the looming 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Ernst noted that—as General Milley had stated—military recommendations should be conditions-based. However, Ernst said, “Secretary Austin, you are extremely diplomatic in your answers…but this was not a conditions-based withdrawal.”
Ernst also expressed frustration in the inability to continue a diplomatic mission in Afghanistan after our diplomats were forced to evacuate the country.
Continuing her questioning of top Pentagon officials, Ernst pressed Milley and McKenzie to assess how the Biden Administration’s disastrous withdrawal will impact terrorist threats to the United States.
In response to Ernst asking if “the military’s task to defeat terror threats from Afghanistan [has] gotten harder” and if “the Taliban and its other terror partners have more ability to train and prepare in Afghanistan now that [the United States has] left,” General Milley acknowledged both are true.
Ernst also refuted President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and others who have downplayed the threats posed by al Qaeda, citing that known associates of the terrorist organization now hold 22 top positions in the new Taliban government.
Watch Ernst’s open remarks and questioning during Tuesday’s hearing above.