More than a month has passed since Biden Administration ended the hastened and largely chaotic withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan, but Washington is struggling to grasp how the vast, over two decades long investment it made simply collapsed.
The closed US Senate hearings on Afghanistan – involving both the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin- that resulted in scandal didn’t help the situation either.
US top brass blamed the State Department for the failed evacuation of US citizens and Afghan nationals from Kabul with Pentagon chief Milley blaming the Department for waiting too long before initiating the operation.
Milley argued that the US Central Command started preparations for a possible mission just weeks after US President Joe Biden’s announced in April the end the Afghan campaign while the State Department delayed the decision until the very last minute.
According to Politico, due to security concerns the Pentagon had prioritized and accelerated the withdrawal of US troops over the Afghan allies and diplomats since the plan was to keep the embassy in Kabul open and kept secure by the US-trained Afghan forces.
Defence Secretary Austin, on top of that, claimed in his lengthy testimony that the State Department was also responsible for the slowed removal of Americans and the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants since it’s the Department’s call on how to do that and when to do it.
Despite the facts that Pentagon drafted an evacuation plan for Afghan assistants of the US military and their families, the White House did not authorise it until July.
Experts, on the other side, argue that the situation also indicates a partisan controversy as well as lack of coordination between US state agencies since although the State Department is responsible for launching noncombatant evacuation operation, it is the army that usually has to carry them out.
The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee James Risch, blamed earlier this month the Defence Department for failing to provide the documents needed to process SIV applicants’ visas to the State Department.
Pavel Koshkin, Research Fellow Institute for US and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, points that the long-term standoff between the diplomatic agency and the Pentagon is normal for US politics and that the accusations against the State Department are essential part of it.