House Foreign Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on 2021 Afghanistan Withdrawal

On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held its first hearing on the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan, inviting US service members and other witnesses to testify about the chaotic evacuation of the country.[0] The hearing, chaired by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), focused on the Biden administration's role in the end of the two-decade war and whether it was responsible for the fiasco that ensued.[1]

McCaul, a vocal critic of the withdrawal, declared it “a systemic breakdown of the federal government at every level, and a stunning failure of leadership by the Biden administration.”[2]

The hearing's most compelling testimony came from Tyler Vargas-Andrews, a Marine Sergeant injured in the Aug. 26, 2021 terror attack at the Kabul airport.[3] Vargas-Andrews reported that he and another Marine, both tasked with securing the airport, had received intelligence of a potential suicide bomber heading to the vicinity.[4] He reported that he and his partner were seen among the people and asked for authorization to act, but it was never granted by the superiors.[3]

He stated, “Plain and simple, we were ignored,”[4]

Aidan Gunderson, a former Army specialist who had retired in July, was one among other witnesses. Also, three military veterans who had participated in the ad hoc efforts to find and support allied Afghans were present.[5] They were Francis Q. Hoang of Allied Airlift 21, Peter Lucier of Team America Relief, and Scott Mann of Task Force Pineapple.[5]

The Biden administration will maintain that the withdrawal timetable which Trump had already agreed to with the Taliban was passed on to Biden, and that any departure from the conflict which has spanned over two decades would have been complicated.[6] But GOP lawmakers are finding that simply blaming the Biden administration for the seemingly botched withdrawal isn't so easy, as they’ve had mixed luck obtaining documents and other materials from the Biden administration.[1]

The committee’s Democrats, on the other hand, argued that the withdrawal was the right decision and that mistakes had been made by both Republican and Democratic administrations over the past two decades. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said lawmakers will investigate what he called the Biden administration's flawed execution of the U.S. withdrawal, as well as a “series of mistakes made by Republican and Democratic administrations over the past 20 years.[7]

0. “GOP to zero-in on Biden’s handling of Afghanistan at initial hearing” The Hill, 7 Mar. 2023,

1. “House Republicans face thorny challenges in Afghanistan withdrawal investigations” Washington Examiner, 6 Mar. 2023,

2. “House GOP's Afghanistan Investigation Kicks Off” The Dispatch, 7 Mar. 2023,

3. “An injured Marine gives searing testimony on the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan | NPR” KCRW, 8 Mar. 2023,

4. “Marine sniper tears up testifying how leaders ignored his warnings minutes before Kabul airport blast” Fox News, 8 Mar. 2023,

5. “Republicans broaden scrutiny of Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal” The Washington Post, 8 Mar. 2023,

6. “House GOP puts spotlight on Biden's Afghanistan exit” Axios, 5 Mar. 2023,

7. “Marine injured in Kabul airport bombing recounts ‘catastrophic' US withdrawal from Afghanistan at House hearing” WENY-TV, 8 Mar. 2023,