Secretary Austin, Gen. Milley to Testify Before Senate, House Panels

Secretary Austin, Gen. Milley to Testify Before Senate, House Panels Secretary Austin, Gen. Milley to Testify Before Senate, House Panels

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, pictured, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley and U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie are set to testify next week before the House and Senate Armed Services committees regarding the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan late last month.

(Andrew Harnik-Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

By Eric Mack | Wednesday, 22 September 2021 09:36 PM

Three military leaders are set to appear next week before the Senate and House Armed Services committees regarding the Afghanistan withdrawal that left 13 U.S. service members dead from an ISIS-K suicide bombing outside the Taliban-controlled gates of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul in late August.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Central Command Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie are set to testify next Tuesday in the Senate and Wednesday in the House in hearings titled "Ending the U.S. Military Mission in Afghanistan."

The House hearings will span until Oct. 1, the committee announced Wednesday.

"The committee will receive testimony from the Department of Defense on the issues surrounding the end of the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan," the committee wrote.

President Joe Biden has been under fire for the chaotic execution of the unconditional withdrawal from Afghanistan, which led the Taliban to swiftly reassume control of the country after the Afghan military surrendered.

The hearings will come one day after the leaders will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, the first testimony.

"Although we have completed the withdrawal of American military personnel and over 100,000 civilians from Afghanistan, I remain deeply concerned about the events that accompanied our withdrawal and the ongoing humanitarian crisis," Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., wrote in a statement.

"It is the duty of Congress — and the Senate Armed Services Committee in particular — to hold hearings to learn lessons from the situation in Afghanistan and ensure accountability at the highest levels.

"The committee will hold a series of hearings to examine the factors and decisions that manifested over four presidential administrations of both political parties to shape the outcome we now face in Afghanistan."

The Senate Armed Services Committee's ranking member, Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., seeks to find "who should be held accountable."

"I'm grateful to Chairman Reed for prioritizing these critical oversight hearings on Afghanistan — the first of what I will expect to be many hearings and briefings to review and determine what happened, who should be held accountable, and how we move forward," Inhofe wrote in a statement.

"The American people, our service members past and present, our allies, and partners around the world and the Afghans who bravely helped us deserve this transparency and accountability."

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