WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee delivered the following opening statement at a hearing regarding the ongoing troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Rep. Rogers remarks as prepared for delivery:
Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this hearing today.
It’s been a month since President Biden announced he was unconditionally withdrawing U.S forces from Afghanistan by September 11th.
I believe it is the responsibility of this Committee to examine the implications of President Biden’s decision, both for our national security interests in the region and for our homeland security.
I want to be crystal clear – I have significant concerns about the President’s decision.
Major questions remain about how we withdraw and what political arrangement is left following our departure.
Since May 1st, the Taliban have been crystal clear about their intentions.
They’ve launched a new offensive targeting coalition forces, Afghan soldiers, and innocent civilians.
On Saturday, the Taliban bombed a girls’ school in Kabul, killing over 50 people, most of them young girls.
Make no mistake, they will fight until they control the country again.
And when they do, what assurance do we have that it won’t become a safe haven for terrorists.
We know that Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups remain present in Afghanistan and continue to have close ties with the Taliban, especially at the local level.
The President assures us that he will maintain an “over-the-horizon” capability to suppress threats, but to date, he hasn’t explained to us what that means.
There’s no agreement in place with any of Afghanistan’s neighbors to host coalition forces.
So without any U.S. troops in the region, how will we gather intelligence and conduct the operations necessary to thwart these terrorist groups?
We cannot afford to allow Afghanistan to become a blind spot again.
There must be a detailed plan and I expect the administration to explain it before the President completely removes forces from Afghanistan.
Like every Member of this Committee, I want this war to end.
I want to bring our troops home safely and as quickly as possible.
But none of us want another 9/11.
So we need to understand how the President plans to defeat these threats to our homeland before they reach our shores.
Mr. Helvey, I expect an explanation from you today of how the President intends to do just that.
I thank the witnesses for their testimony and their service.
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