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GOP Rep. Rogers Defends Military: What Happened Was Biden Administration’s Fault

"It was not a military operation; the military was there in support.”
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On Tuesday, Congressman Mike Rogers (R-AL) the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, blasted the Biden administration for its withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying, “What happened is their fault. It was not a military operation; the military was there in support.”

Rogers began by slamming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not recognizing Wisconsin GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher’s resolution, which called for doing whatever was necessary to save Americans stranded in Afghanistan.

First, I want to make the point that Speaker Pelosi may have ran away this morning from dealing with these issues on the House floor by not recognizing Mr. Gallagher’s resolution; they won’t be able to run from it tomorrow. The  House Armed Services Committee starts its mark-up of the National Defense Authorization Act tomorrow morning. There will be many amendments addressing this; Mr. Gallagher is a member of our committee.  I am certain he intends to bring up all components of his resolution to be debated fully in the Armed Services Committee.

Then Rogers turned to the Biden administration:

Second: This disaster that we just experienced in Afghanistan is solely the responsibility of Joe Biden, (Secretary of State) Antony Blinken, and Jake Sullivan and their leadership team. This is not a military failure; this was not a military operation. The chain of command in Afghanistan was led by the State Department; the decisions were led by the State Department missions. The troop levels were led by the State Department decisions. So when you saw Bagram closed, that was a State Department and Joe Biden decision. When you saw us only have 600 troops in Kabul when the Turks had 900, the Brits had 500, that was a decision driven by the State Department.

“Joe Biden and Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan can’t shirk responsibility for this,” he said. “What happened is their fault. It was not a military operation; the military was there in support.”

Rogers then segued to the threat from terrorism abroad:

Third and final point: We’ve got to move forward with this terrible situation that we have right now. What I have asked Secretary Austin last night, General Milley this morning is to be thinking about options for us in the future for counter-terrorism and ISR capabilities. The fact is that now that we are out we have no eyes and ears on what’s going on in Afghanistan. This “over-the-horizon” suggestion that Anthony Blinken has talked about is ridiculous.

Rogers named a couple of U.S. Air Force bases and said if the U.S. flew out of them, “You’re looking at having to fly down to the Arabian Sea and then over Pakistan to get in; it’s a seven to eight-hour flight; you might have an hour or two hours of coverage. That is not effective, and that’s assuming that Pakistan will continue to allow us to fly over it. We all know the Taliban is nothing but a Pakistan proxy, and we don’t know that we’ll continue to have that privilege.”

He concluded, “We have to have a base somewhere in Afghanistan. This idea that one of the other ‘stans’ is going to allow us to have basing? Russia and China will never let happen. We have to have something in the ‘stans.’ So I’ve charged both of them with coming up with proposals for us; we have got to deal with this counter-terrorism and ISR vulnerability or we will have another attack on our soil. And that’s not an option.”

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