WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement regarding the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.   
“The United States first sent troops to Afghanistan nearly 20 years ago for the right reasons: To respond to an unprovoked attack on our country, hold those who planned 9/11 accountable, and prevent another similar terrorist attack on the homeland. That initial, narrow mission was highly successful. The United States and its partners and allies eliminated the threat posed by Osama bin Laden, and severely degraded Al-Qaeda.  
“Once we completed that mission a decade ago our priority shifted to the creation of a stable Afghan government that could provide for its country’s own security, so the country wouldn’t fall under control of the Taliban immediately after our departure. It made sense for us to stay in the country at the time, but after 20 years of effort it became clear it wasn’t possible to build such a government – it simply wasn’t going to work. 
“That presented us with a difficult choice: if it’s not possible to help shore up the Afghan government, then wouldn’t the Taliban immediately come back when we depart? That tension was the main reason we were reluctant to walk away from this process.  
“Therefore, I reached the same conclusion as the President: We could not ask Americans to give up their lives for a mission that would not be successful, so it made sense to withdraw. I fully support the President in that decision. 
“This withdrawal was never going to be easy, nor was it going to be clean. It was clear to me that the Taliban would likely take over upon our departure and that the cost of trying to prevent the Taliban’s takeover was simply too high. 
“The mistakes made in the execution of the withdrawal are also clear to me: The plan to evacuate civilians was wholly inadequate. In the coming months, we need to examine why it has happened this way and make sure it never happens again. We must also scrutinize the intelligence behind this operation to understand whether it provided any clarity regarding how swiftly the Taliban would move in and what our response should have looked like. 
“We stuck with this mission for years to avoid the level of chaos we’re now seeing. But the tragic situation on the ground proves that the President was right — we needed to get out of Afghanistan to prevent the loss of more American lives in pursuit of futile efforts to rebuild the government of Afghanistan.
“Finally, and most importantly, our immediate focus must be the safe evacuation of all U.S. personnel from Afghanistan, and as many Afghan nationals as possible. We must do everything in our power to help those Afghans who supported the U.S. military, as well as their families, and other Afghan nationals who may be in danger because of their work on humanitarian or human rights issues.”