Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley reportedly blamed the State Department for the botched U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan in a closed congressional hearing.
Milley said State Department officials waited too long to order the evacuation from the Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul, according to a report from Axios. The State Department initially delayed evacuations from Afghanistan at the request of former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who feared that Afghans would perceive that the U.S. was abandoning a failed state.
Scoop: In a classified briefing on Tuesday, Milley blamed the State Department for a slow civilian evacuation from Afghanistan, saying officials “waited too long” .. his closed door comments much sharper than public testimony..w @zacharybasu @alaynatreene https://t.co/NqSqRWd3he
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) September 29, 2021
During a classified Senate hearing Wednesday, Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth asked Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about lessons that could be learned from the Afghanistan withdrawal, according to Axios. Milley reportedly chimed in to say that the evacuation of U.S. citizens needed to happen earlier.
Milley apparently said that there was a strong disagreement between the State Department and the Pentagon on this particular question. (RELATED: Gen. McKenzie Says Military Knew Within Hours That Kabul Drone Strike ‘Hit Civilians’)
The State Department is the entity responsible for initiating a noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO), which is then executed by the military. Austin said he ordered CENTCOM to begin preparation for an NEO in the weeks following President Joe Biden’s withdrawal announcement in April, but the State Department did not order the NEO until the day before the Taliban took Kabul on Aug. 15.