Statement: General Kellogg, John Ratcliffe, and Chad Wolf on the Latest In Afghanistan

August 16, 2021

AFPI’s Co-Chairs of the Center for American Security, Lt. General (Ret.) Keith Kellogg and Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, and Chairman of the Center for Homeland Security and Immigration, Former Acting Secretary of DHS Chad Wolf offered the following statement:

“For the past 20 years, our men and women have served heroically in Afghanistan. We must never forget their sacrifice.

Sadly, this tragic end game in Afghanistan was entirely predictable and preventable. Ending America’s longest war is appropriate, and how it needed to be done was critical.

The Trump administration developed a conditions-based withdrawal. According to this plan, no final withdrawal would have occurred until final successful peace negotiations took place between the Taliban and the Ghani government. 

President Trump personally engaged with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who led the Taliban delegation, and clearly laid out what would happen in the event of any Taliban intransigence. They understood and respected this approach because we had established credible deterrence in the preceding years, which is why no U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in the final 11 months we were in office.

Similar engagement was made with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. This laid the groundwork for Afghans to take the future of their country into their own hands. 

The difference between then and now is leadership. The Biden Administration alone owns this failure, adding Afghanistan to Biden’s long history of, as President Obama’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, being “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”