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In August 2021, the United States completed its military withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending America's longest war. Throughout the withdrawal, U.S. service members performed with skill and bravery — and tragically 13 made the ultimate sacrifice in support of an operation in Kabul that evacuated over 120,000 people to safety.
Sustaining America's military presence for twenty more years would not have resulted in the creation of an independent Afghan government that could provide for the security of the people of Afghanistan. In the aftermath of the U.S. military withdrawal, Congress created the independent bipartisan Afghanistan War Commission to conduct a detailed and comprehensive assessment of America's involvement in Afghanistan from June 2001 to August 2021.
In the year since bringing America's longest war to an end, the Biden-Harris administration has continued to address the greatest counterterrorism challenges facing the United States, including by eliminating the threat posed by al-Qaeda's former top leader. Continue reading this edition of The Facts from the Democratic majority on the House Armed Services Committee to learn more.
The Biden-Harris administration has continued to meet America's greatest counterterrorism challenges.
- On August 1, President Biden announced that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed during a successful U.S. strike in Afghanistan.
- Skilled work and dedication by U.S. intelligence professionals ensured the success of this operation without the large military presence sustained by the United States throughout twenty years of war in Afghanistan.
- This strike demonstrated a continued commitment by the United States to combatting terrorism — and it showed our ability to effectively accomplish counterterrorism missions in Afghanistan.
Congress has created a commission to conduct a fair assessment of America's military presence in Afghanistan.
- Four American presidents — two Republicans and two Democrats — held office throughout the U.S. military's two-decade presence in Afghanistan.
- In the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, Congress created the independent bipartisan Afghanistan War Commission, which will conduct a comprehensive review of key strategic, diplomatic, and operational decisions across the entirety of the U.S. government from June 2001 to August 2021.
- Sixteen members appointed by congressional leaders from both parties will make up the Commission.
- The Commission is required to submit interim reports and a final report to appropriate congressional committees within three years of its first meeting, and a public version of that report will be made available in an unclassified form.
American service members performed with bravery throughout the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
- During the August 2021 evacuation, our men and women in uniform worked around the clock to ensure that tens of thousands of U.S. citizens, citizens of allies and partners, and our Afghan allies were evacuated safely.
- In August 2021 alone, the United States and our partners had evacuated over 120,000 Americans, Afghans, and others in the largest airlift operation in history.
- In October 2021, the House of Representatives unanimously approved posthumous Congressional Gold Medals for 11 Marines, one Navy corpsman, and one soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice at Hamid Karzai International Airport in support of the evacuation operation.
Twenty more years of military involvement would not result in a sustainable, independent Afghan government.
- When he came into office, President Biden inherited a deal with the Taliban and faced a choice: place American lives at greater risk by maintaining the U.S. presence and escalating the war in Afghanistan — or bring it to an end.
- America's military presence in Afghanistan had successfully degraded al-Qaeda's ability to conduct large terrorist attacks against the homeland, but it could not lead to a sustainable, independent state.
- After two decades, we could not continue to ask service members to risk their lives trying to accomplish the creation of an independent Afghan government that could provide for its own security, which had proven to be beyond the scope of a military mission.