US failure to evacuate US-trained Afghan commandos, say lawmakers

US failure to evacuate US-trained Afghan commandos, say lawmakers

WASHINGTON - Former Afghan security personnel with sensitive knowledge of the US operations left behind by the American evacuation operation are vulnerable to recruitment or coercion by Russia, China and Iran, Republican lawmakers said on Sunday Aug 14 that President Joe Biden's administration did not prioritize evacuating them.

The minority Republicans of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee said in a report on the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Kabul that some former Afghan military personnel have fled to Iran.

The report said that the Biden administration did not prioritize evacuating US-trained Afghan commandos and other elite units in the shambolic Aug 14 -- 30, 2021, US troop pullout and evacuation operation at Kabul International Airport.

Thirteen US soldiers died and hundreds of US citizens and tens of thousands of at-risk Afghans were left behind during the operation.

The operation was an extraordinary success, as it brought more than 124,000 Americans and Afghans to safety and wound up an endless war in which some 3,500 US and allied troops and hundreds of thousands of Afghans died.

More than a dozen US-trained commandos and other former security personnel and their families remain in Afghanistan, amid reports that the Taliban have been killing and torturing former Afghan officials, allegations that the militants deny.

The Republican report said that a former staff could be recruited or coerced into working for one of America's adversaries that maintains a presence in Afghanistan, including Russia, China or Iran.

It called that possibility a major national security risk because Afghans know the U.S. military and intelligence community's tactics, techniques, and procedures. Some US officials and experts say Biden has tried to move on from Afghanistan without properly assessing the lessons and without accountability for the chaotic evacuation.

The Republican report combines new details of the extraction operation with congressional testimony and military and news reports to show how the administration overrode US commanders' advice, failed to plan and disregarded the Taliban's violations of a 2020 pullout deal.

The administration waited for hours before the Taliban seized Kabul to make key evacuation decisions, according to another finding.

The report said they asked other countries to host transit centers for thousands of Afghan evacuees who worked for the US government during the 20-year American intervention and others at risk of Taliban retribution.

It said that very little was done to prepare for the Taliban takeover of the country or for the evacuation.