Marine Recounts ‘Catastrophic’ US Withdrawal from Afghanistan

A former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant who was gravely injured in a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport recounted the “catastrophic” U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan ad a House hearing. 

Tyler Vargas-Andrews can remember in specific detail the moment that a suicide bomber attacked Kabul airport’s Abbey Gate in August 2021 amid the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The detailed and emotional testimony was part of a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the evacuation from Afghanistan. The bombing took the lives of 13 U.S. service members and more than 100 Afghans. 

The Sergeant, who lost a leg, an arm, and a kidney in the attack, was one of several witnesses to provide harrowing details to Congress on the final days of America’s longest war.

He said that he and his team had a chance to shoot the bomber, but were never given permission to do so.

During the testimony, he depicted a breakdown in lines of authority that left him and his team unclear as to whether they could take out a suspected suicide bomber.

The Biden administration’s frenzied withdrawal after two decades of U.S. involvement in the war has come under immense scrutiny by Republican lawmakers, including the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, who has vowed to investigate the matter.

However, those accusations in Congress about who is responsible for the chaotic final weeks of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan have fallen largely along party lines, with Republican lawmakers pointing fingers at the Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers casting blame on the Trump administration for the deal that set the U.S. withdrawal into motion.

Vargas-Andrews described the withdrawal as a “catastrophe,” telling lawmakers that “there was an inexcusable lack of accountability and negligence.” 

He painted a picture of days of chaos and violence toward Afghans who were trying to flee the Taliban, described the US State Department as “not prepared to be at” the Kabul airport, and claimed that threat warnings were disregarded by higher command on the day of the attack.

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