Lawmakers set to grill Austin and Milley on Afghanistan for first time since troop withdrawal

Austin and Milley will be joined by the chief of US Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, who played an integral role in facilitating the evacuation from Kabul — an energy that has been the concentrate of enormous bipartisan criticism given that the very last American military services aircraft departed the Afghan cash.

All 3 officers will definitely face issues about the chaotic nature of the withdrawal, be pressed to make clear the Biden administration’s prepare for conducting counter-terrorism missions in the region heading forward and be named on to reply for the failures that led to a drone strike killing 10 civilians, which includes 7 small children, in Kabul through the closing days of the evacuation.

Milley may possibly also be grilled about new reporting in “Peril,” a e book by Washington Publish reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, which details the military services leader’s telephone conversations to reassure a anxious Chinese basic and his efforts to limit then-President Donald Trump from most likely ordering a harmful military strike.

Milley’s actions, which ended up reported by CNN and some others previously this thirty day period in advance of the book’s launch, spawned sharp criticism from Trump and his allies, such as calls for Milley’s resignation and that he be attempted for treason.

The hearing prior to the Senate Armed Companies Committee arrives right after Secretary of Point out Antony Blinken defended the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the chaotic evacuation exertion throughout consecutive congressional hearings earlier this thirty day period.

The leading US diplomat was the to start with member of the administration to publicly account for the gatherings in Afghanistan just before Congress and remains the only senior official to testify on that matter to date — aggravating lawmakers on each sides of the aisle who have sought to lay blame for what unfolded.

That will change Tuesday when lawmakers eventually have an possibility to listen to from the leading Pentagon officers who oversaw vital components of the withdrawal and are now tasked with protecting against Afghanistan from becoming a safe and sound haven for terrorists.

The Biden administration has nonetheless to depth its program for countering terrorist threats emanating from Afghanistan now that American troops have left the place, nevertheless prime armed forces and intelligence officers have acknowledged groups like al Qaeda could before long reconstitute there.

Very last week, Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top rated Republican on the committee, formally requested facts from the Pentagon related to the August 26 attack on the Kabul Airport that killed 13 US company associates US strikes conducted on August 27 and 29 efforts to evacuate civilians from the country US military services products and materiel left at the rear of and the administration’s future counterterrorism strategies.

'We want justice,' say the family of 10 civilians killed in a US airstrike that officials now say was 'a mistake'

Whilst the Pentagon has right until Oct 8 to react to that ask for, Inhofe’s letter delivers a window into the types of issues he and other lawmakers may well pursue all through Tuesday’s listening to.

Inhofe and a team of best Republicans also voiced fears Monday about the prospect of US-Russian military cooperation on counterterrorism functions in Afghanistan right after the Wall Avenue Journal described that Milley lifted the challenge previous 7 days all through a dialogue with his Russian counterpart.

A resource with awareness of the discussion and two other folks briefed on the issue confirmed to CNN that Milley, at the ask for of the National Security Council, questioned his counterpart to explain a earlier remark made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he suggested the two international locations could coordinate in this location heading ahead.

The to start with supply preserved this was not a policy-driven dialogue but simply an effort and hard work to recognize what Putin meant when he raised the risk of permitting the US entry to regional military services installations in Central Asian countries for the duration of a meeting with Biden previously this summertime, as it was unclear at the time if he was severe.

That mentioned, the source famous that the Biden administration is not going to hold out on acquiescence from Russia or any other nation to execute its coverage in this portion of the globe. The resource also mentioned that it was unclear if Milley obtained any clarification throughout his discussion with his Russian counterpart.

Milley’s workplace did not instantly respond to CNN’s ask for for comment but he could be pressed on the problem all through Tuesday’s hearing.

In the meantime, McKenzie will probably experience questions about the lethal Kabul drone strike final thirty day period that killed 10 civilians — which include seven kids.

CIA warned children were possibly present seconds before US missile killed 10McKenzie instructed reporters earlier this month that the strike was a “oversight” and presented an apology, acknowledging a army investigation established the car targeted was probable not a menace affiliated with ISIS-K as earlier considered.

When McKenzie stressed that upcoming strikes will likely be held to a better regular, confirmation of the civilian loss of life toll also supplies perception into the hurdles in advance for military services and intelligence officials tasked with satisfying President Joe Biden’s guarantee to make ISIS-K, the terror group that claimed responsibility for the attack that killed the 13 US troops, “spend” for its fatal suicide attack in Kabul.

On top of that, the Pentagon leaders could be questioned about tens of countless numbers of Afghan refugees who are briefly being housed at armed service installations about the US.

Many of individuals installations are nearing capacity, according to new figures supplied by Northern Command on Monday, boosting extra queries about exactly where the administration programs to mail individuals who are however attempting to flee Afghanistan.

CNN’s Ellie Kaufman, Nicole Gaouette, Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.