Murkowski on Last American Troops Leaving Kabul, Ending 20-Year War in Afghanistan

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) issued the following statement after President Biden addressed the nation to further explain his administration’s decision to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan:

“The final U.S. military evacuation flight departed the Kabul airport Monday, ending America’s longest war at nearly 20 years. Ending the war in Afghanistan is a milestone that has left many of us with mixed emotions: relief that American troops are able to safely return to the United States; mourning for the individuals who have given their lives in the defense of our freedom; disturbed and angry that this Administration left behind Americans and their families fearful of their safety; and concern about the void of American and Allied forces being filled by terrorist groups. I never supported indefinite American troop presence in Afghanistan, but stressed that any withdrawal needed to be done in a deliberate and strategic manner with the safety of our troops as a top priority. Fulfilling campaign promises and meeting self-imposed deadlines should never take precedence over American lives or American core interests. While President Biden told America he stands behind his earlier decision for a full withdrawal by September 11—the 20th anniversary of the war—I’m concerned about the lasting negative impacts this withdrawal will have. All we have to do is look at the situation over the past two weeks as proof.

“I have said multiple times that there are a number of questions that need to be answered. Chief among those is how we evacuate American citizens who are still stranded and ensure security for the many more fleeing persecution—particularly Afghan women and girls. Why didn’t the Biden administration extend their self-imposed deadline in order to ensure the safe evacuation of the more than 100 Americans left stranded in Afghanistan now under Taliban control? Further, as we begin a new chapter regarding U.S. involvement in the Middle East, what role does the U.S. have in eliminating terrorism threats abroad, while minimizing risks for our troops? How do we avoid unraveling all the progress that has been made in counterterrorism efforts?

“The American people must hold the Biden administration fully accountable for the failures that took place during the withdrawal and recent evacuation. The loss of life at the Kabul airport was higher than anything in the past decade of fighting in Afghanistan. But as we work to find answers, we cannot lose sight of the contributions of our nation’s heroes throughout this war on terror. Regardless of the challenges and uncertainty we face, we honor and remember the service and sacrifice of those who have served in the 20-year war. Their bravery and sacrifice has not been in vain and America’s fight against terrorism continues.”

Separately, Tuesday during a pro forma session, the Senate unanimously passed the Emergency Repatriation Assistance for Returning Americans Act, to provide aid to the estimated 6,000 Americans returning from Afghanistan after being evacuated. The temporary assistance for these Americans includes medical care, transportation, and services necessary for their health or welfare such as counseling.  

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