Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday morning. The focus was on the Defense budget request for the fiscal year of 2024 but they were asked about the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan in late August of 2021.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) questioned Austin regarding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He asked if he had any regrets.
Austin gave a shocking response: “I don’t have any regrets” about how the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan.
When the question went further and he was pressed as to accountability, Austin at first tried to sidestep but then stated he was not aware of anyone being held to account regarding the withdrawal.
Here’s the actual account of the testimony:
Banks: Secretary Austin, last week, General McKenzie repeated that he has many regrets about the botched, deadly, and embarrassing withdrawal from Afghanistan and that he supports investigations into that withdrawal. A moment ago, you didn’t — you said you executed the President’s order, you didn’t tell us what you advised the President to do, but do you have regrets about the withdrawal from Afghanistan?
Austin: I support the President’s decision.
Banks: Do you have regrets about the withdrawal, or how the withdrawal occurred from Afghanistan that cost the lives of 13 of our servicemembers?
Austin: I don’t have any regrets —
Banks: You don’t have any regrets. Secretary Austin — that’s very telling — Secretary Austin, has there ever been any accountability for anyone within the Department of Defense for the deadly, botched, and embarrassing withdrawal from Afghanistan? Any accountability?
Austin: Hey, listen, our troops evacuated 124,000 people off that airfield, and —
Banks: Has anyone been held accountable? If a Navy captain grounded a ship, what happens immediately?
Austin: Typically, that captain is removed.
Banks: That captain is removed. Has anyone been held accountable for what happened in Afghanistan?
Austin: To my knowledge, no.
Banks: You won’t regret it, no one’s ever been held accountable. Mr. Chairman, this is why this Republican majority must provide the accountability that this administration wants to sweep under the rug with what happened in Afghanistan.
Rep. Banks doesn’t mince words when he refers to the withdrawal as “deadly, botched, and embarrassing.”
But these officials have “no regrets.”
DEFENSE SECRETARY AUSTIN:
“I don’t have any regrets” about how the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/g2pgbhdFd1
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) March 29, 2023