The Biden administration repeatedly blamed the Trump administration for the failed withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan in 2021.
In the rushed withdrawal, 13 U.S. troops were killed in Kabul.
“President Biden had committed to ending the war in Afghanistan, but when he came into office he was confronted with difficult realities left to him by the Trump Administration,” the White House said.
The Biden White House released its official 12-page report Thursday.
President Biden’s choices for how to execute a withdrawal from Afghanistan were
severely constrained by conditions created by his predecessor. When President Trump
took office in 2017, there were more than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan. Eighteen
months later, after introducing more than 3,000 additional troops just to maintain the
stalemate, President Trump ordered direct talks with the Taliban without consulting with
our allies and partners or allowing the Afghan government at the negotiating table. In
September 2019, President Trump embolded the Taliban by publicly considering inviting
them to Camp David on the anniversary of 9/11. In February 2020, the United States
and the Taliban reached a deal, known as the Doha Agreement, under which the United
States agreed to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by May 2021. In return, the
Taliban agreed to participate in a peace process and refrain from attacking U.S. troops
and threatening Afghanistan’s major cities—but only as long as the United States
remained committed to withdraw by the agreement’s deadline. As part of the deal,
President Trump also pressured the Afghan government to release 5,000 Taliban
fighters from prison, including senior war commanders, without securing the release of
the only American hostage known to be held by the Taliban.
Over his last 11 months in office, President Trump ordered a series of drawdowns of
U.S. troops. By June 2020, President Trump reduced U.S. troops in Afghanistan to
8,600. In September 2020, he directed a further draw down to 4,500. A month later,
President Trump tweeted, to the surprise of military advisors, that the remaining U.S.
troops in Afghanistan should be “home by Christmas!” On September 28, 2021,
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Milley testified that, on November 11, he had
received an unclassified signed order directing the U.S. military to withdraw all forces
from Afghanistan no later than January 15, 2021. One week later, that order was
rescinded and replaced with one to draw down to 2,500 troops by the same date.
During the transition from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration, the outgoing Administration provided no plans for how to conduct the final withdrawal or to
evacuate Americans and Afghan allies. Indeed, there were no such plans in place
when President Biden came into office, even with the agreed upon full withdrawal just
over three months away.
As a result, when President Biden took office on January 20, 2021, the Taliban were in
the strongest military position that they had been in since 2001, controlling or contesting
nearly half of the country. At the same time, the United States had only 2,500 troops on
the ground—the lowest number of troops in Afghanistan since 2001—and President
Biden was facing President Trump’s near-term deadline to withdraw all U.S. forces from
Afghanistan by May 2021, or the Taliban would resume its attacks on U.S. and allied
troops. Secretary of Defense Austin testified on September 28, 2021, “the intelligence
was clear that if we did not leave in accordance with that agreement, the Taliban would
recommence attacks on our forces.”
The report also said, “The departing Trump Administration had left the Biden Administration with a
date for withdrawal, but no plan for executing it. And after four years of neglect—and in
some cases deliberate degradation—crucial systems, offices, and agency functions that
would be necessary for a safe and orderly departure were in disrepair.”
The White House accused the Trump administration of “disregard and even hostility toward our commitment to Afghan allies.”
READ THE FULL REPORT BELOW:
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby tried to defend the Biden administration Thursday.