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Report criticizes US withdrawal from Afghanistan

July 1, 2023

A US State Department report, critical of President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump, has pointed to the inadequate preparedness for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in 2021.

US soldiers board an US Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul
The report said the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan had serious consequences for the US-backed government in the countryImage: Aamir Qureshi/AFP

Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden's administrations made mistakes before and after the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in 2021, the US State Department found in a report released on Friday.

"The decisions of both President Trump and President Biden to end the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan had serious consequences for the viability of the Afghan government and its security," the review said.

The so-called Afghanistan After Action Review report, requested by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, found their decision "presented significant challenges" to the State Department.

The review said that "during both administrations there was insufficient senior-level consideration of worst-case scenarios and how quickly those might follow."

State department wasn’t prepared

Only 24 pages of a 85-page report were made public, the rest remained classified.

The were a lack of clear decision-making, an absence of centralized crisis management and confusing public messaging, it found. 

It said there were shortcomings in the management plan concerning the Taliban.

It mentioned the department's failure to expand its crisis-management task force to combat the Taliban forces and to appoint a senior diplomat to "oversee all elements of the crisis response."

Without naming, the report also criticized Secretary of State Antony Blinken and said, "Naming a 7th floor principal ... would have improved coordination across different lines of effort."

Afghan evacuees struggle to start new life

White House report skipped critical viewpoint

Biden was defiant when asked Friday if he would admit to mistakes.

"Remember what I said about Afghanistan? I said al-Qaida would not be there," Biden said. "I said we'd get help from the Taliban. What's happening now? What's going on? Read your press. I was right."
In April,the White House had released a report summarizing the 2021 US withdrawal from Afghanistan based on the State Department's review and a similar study by the Pentagon.

The White House report had defended the conduct of the rapid exit of US troops from Afghanistan and had blamed the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan on Trump.

The report excluded the State Department's critical point of view on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

mf/lo (AP, dpa, Reuters)