KABUL – In a recent report from the State Department’s Office of Inspector General, it has been disclosed that the Biden administration’s emphasis on projecting stability in Afghanistan during the rapid Taliban takeover in 2021 had adverse effects on evacuation operations carried out by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
The report highlights a crucial incident where the U.S. Ambassador reprimanded embassy staff during a meeting when they expressed concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan as America prepared to exit that summer.
Furthermore, the decision to announce the embassy’s drawdown was described as haphazard, with some staff learning about it through loudspeakers on the compound. This chaotic approach hindered the embassy’s ability to prepare for the evacuation.
The report, released last month, summarizes a classified investigation into whether the U.S. Embassy in Kabul adhered to established State Department guidelines in preparing for and executing the evacuation of embassy personnel, U.S. citizens, at-risk Afghans, and other individuals in August 2021.
The chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan remains a challenging episode in President Biden’s term, marked by the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the capital city, the abrupt departure of the western-backed Afghan government, and the disintegration of the Afghan army.
Despite evacuating over 120,000 people, including 6,000 Americans, the evacuation operation was marred by tragedy when a suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. service members and numerous Afghan civilians, leaving many others injured.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee, led by Republicans, has made it a central mission to document the failures of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
A prior “After-Action” review of the State Department’s actions during the withdrawal, published in July, found a lack of clear leadership amid the chaos but attributed some blame to policies from both the Trump and Biden administrations.
Overall, the Office of Inspector General’s report concludes that the embassy generally adhered to department guidelines and took its Emergency Action Plan (EAP) seriously, which outlines roles and responsibilities in potential crisis situations.