LONDON: The administration of US President Joe Biden was at fault for the chaos surrounding the US withdrawal from Kabul, a Pentagon report has said.
The declassified report, published by The Washington Post on Saturday, said decisions — or in some instances indecision — contributed to problems faced by US forces who were trying to secure Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport as the Taliban seized the city last August.
The Pentagon’s after-action report blamed the State Department and the number of its officials for issues and delays in the evacuation process.
“The delay in embassy staff drawdown, NEO declaration and lack of agreed upon (indications and warning procedures) increased risk to mission upon (noncombatant evacuations operations) execution,” it said.
In another section of the report, the same organization is faulted for phasing in a new team of embassy staff in the middle of the evacuation process, which the Defense Department said “caused confusion as the new consular team established operations,” which led to hundreds of US civilians and Afghans seeking passage out of the country through an unfamiliar application process.
“Consular staff did not have sufficient manning to supervise all processing at the gates which often led to Department of Defense personnel at the gates making on the spot calls on paperwork,” the report added.
Too many of these “on the spot calls” were being made by US soldiers, who had little experience in the processes of the State Department, the report concluded.
It also said that “confusion” surrounding bureaucratic decisions affected the capabilities of US forces attempting to conduct an orderly evacuation in the final days of the occupation, which were marred by images of Afghan civilians clinging to US aircraft.
The fallout from the evacuation chaos came amid criticism of the US government over a strike which was supposed to take out Daesh-aligned fighters heading for Kabul during the Taliban takeover, but instead led to the deaths of 10 Afghan civilians, including children.