US officials are livid over how the Biden administration botched the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan - with some saying the US military was rebuffed for wanting a bigger role in helping evacuate Afghans at risk because they worked with the United States, according to Reuters.
Five anonymous US officials told the outlet that "weeks before the Washington-backed Afghan government collapsed, the U.S. military wanted a bigger role in helping to evacuate Afghans at risk because they worked for the United States," adding "The officials believe that a more orderly withdrawal would have been likely."
"We could have done a lot more to help. The administration waited too long," said one official.
Hitting back at criticism, a senior White House official cited laughable comments by national security adviser Jake Sullivan that their team had been "engaged for months of extensive scenario planning and was ready for this challenge."
A person familiar with the situation said the Biden administration was behind the curve as things deteriorated in Afghanistan. "Every decision has come too late and in reaction to events that make the subsequent decision obsolete," the source said.
Local embassy employees who have been at home for weeks were left to make their own way to the airport, the source said.
The pandemonium hampering the evacuations prompted some embassy officials to raise concerns that there was an insufficient number of U.S. troops to secure the airport, reflecting poor planning and intelligence failures, said the source.
The source and another U.S. official told Reuters that the administration so badly misjudged the situation that the State Department flew a regular rotation of diplomats into Kabul last Tuesday even as the Taliban advanced toward the capital.
"The withdrawal of U.S. troops should have been carefully planned to prevent violence and instability, and to ensure that the hard-fought progress gained over the past two decades —particularly when it comes to Afghan women and girls — would not be lost," said Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE).
Meanwhile Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said it was unlikely that a withdrawal of US personnel and at-risk Afghans could be completed by August 31 - Biden's deadline, which Graham said "will likely result in thousands of Afghans who have helped America being left behind for slaughter."
"Frustrated, disgusted and in disbelief today," said one US military official who served in Afghanistan.