Iowa Republican Joni Ernst is among the U.S. Senators who raised questions during a hearing about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Ernst told top U.S. commanders the withdrawal timeline had “little regard” for American lives.
“The loss of our service members and abandonment of Americans and Afghan allies last month was an unforced, disgraceful humiliation that didn’t have to happen,” she said.
Ernst asked U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin if he had expressed concerns to President Biden about shifting from a military to a diplomatic mission for evacuating Americans and Afghans who had been allies over the past two decades of war.
“I don’t understand how we fulfill a diplomatic mission after August 31 when there are absolutely no diplomats on the ground in Afghanistan,” Ernst said. “They’re gone. They’ve been evacuated. Who do we hand that mission off to when there’s nobody there to complete it?”
Ernst said there is “still a threat” terrorism networks will flourish in Afghanistan. She quizzed General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, during the hearing.
“Does the Taliban and its other terror partners have more ability to train and prepare in Afghanistan now that we’ve left?”
Milley replied: “More ability, yes.”
Ernst continued: “Are we at a greater or lesser risk of terror attack from Afghanistan as a result of our withdrawal?”
Milley said it was “too early to tell.” Milley told Ernst and the rest of the Senate Armed Services Committee that terror groups that aspire to attack the United States could use ungoverned areas of Afghanistan as training grounds.