Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), today questioned Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, and General Kenneth McKenzie, Commander of U.S. Central Command, on the Biden Administration’s failed withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Stefanik began her line of questioning by thanking Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division for their 20 years of service in Afghanistan.
“I’m honored and privileged to represent Fort Drum, home of the 10th Mountain Division, the most deployed division in the U.S. Army since 9/11, and I want to take this opportunity to thank every soldier, every service man and woman for deployment after deployment after the past two decades. The North Country, this Committee, and this country are forever grateful for your service and sacrifice of both you and your families,” Stefanik said.
Stefanik then pressed the witnesses on how U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has made the world less safe.
“We are twenty years from the attacks on 9/11. I obviously am from the state of New York, and it is a very solemn occasion for all Americans but particularly New Yorkers every year as we commemorate that date…Is the terrorist threat from Afghanistan greater today or less than it was pre-9/11,” Stefanik asked.
“I think the conditions are set or could be set for a reconstitution of Al-Qaeda or ISIS…It’s a real possibility,” Milley answered.
Stefanik also questioned the witnesses on the evacuation efforts at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul, specifically pressing on U.S. dependence on the Taliban for security of the airport and if the Taliban was given any payment or assistance, by the U.S. or coalition forces, in exchange.