EXCLUSIVE: GOP veterans in Congress who served in Afghanistan said President Biden’s botched withdrawal is “haunting” Americans, while vowing that Republicans will “lead the charge” in ensuring Americans know that freedom, safety and security of the homeland came with sacrifice — and that those sacrifices “will not be in vain.”
The Republican National Committee partnered with Republican veterans in Congress — including Rep. Tony Gonzales, a retired Navy master chief petty officer; Rep. Michael Waltz, a retired Green Beret and Army National Guard colonel; Rep. Brian Mast, a retired Army staff sergeant; Rep. Ronny Jackson, a retired Navy rear admiral; and Rep. Jake Ellzey, a retired Navy commander — to highlight the impact of the Biden administration’s “failure” in Afghanistan on the one-year anniversary of his withdrawal of U.S. troops and military assets from the country.
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“When Joe Biden became president, he took an oath to protect the safety of the American people,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told Fox News. One year after breaking his promise, Biden doesn’t have the decency to own up to his failures and take responsibility for his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan that resulted in the death of American service members and hundreds of Americans left behind enemy lines. To the men and women of America’s armed forces and their families, Americans will always honor the sacrifice that you and your loved ones made for our country.”
The RNC on Wednesday premiered a new special titled “Not in Vain: One Year Later,” featuring those lawmakers who served in Afghanistan.
“You can have the strongest, most forceful, most well-equipped military in the world, but if you have a weak commander in chief that our enemies don’t respect and fear, it’s all for naught,” Waltz told Fox News.
Looking ahead, Waltz said that “as long as I have a breath in Congress, we are going to get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability.”
Gonzales told Fox News that Biden’s “monumental failure” in Afghanistan is “a very personal issue” to anyone who served in the U.S. military.
“And we are not going to forget,” Gonzales said. “Regardless of all the other distractions, all the other things that are happening, we will never forget this administration’s debacle as they left Afghanistan.”
Mast, R-Fla., told Fox News that Republicans “will lead the charge in making sure that Americans know that that freedom, that safety, that security, it came with the sacrifice.”
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“And for those that made that sacrifice, they will be taken care of, they will not be forgotten, and their sacrifices will not be in vain,” Mast said.
And Ellzey said that the “longer this administration has gone on, things that Joe Biden said he would and wouldn’t do are the exact opposite of what he’s actually done as the president of the United States.”
“So, what do we know now after a year since the withdrawal of Afghanistan is when you show weakness, the bullies come out,” Ellzey said.
Critics of the Biden administration have said that the withdrawal from Afghanistan emboldened U.S. adversaries like Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February, and China, with its ambitions to take Taiwan.
In the almost eight-minute video, the lawmakers hit on issues “haunting” the American people under Biden’s leadership.
“There’s so many other things that are haunting America because of this administration — Afghanistan is one thing that’s haunting Americans, but there’s people back home that are saying, ‘I can’t get what I need at the grocery store,'” Mast says in the video. “‘I can’t fill up my car. I’m worried about what’s going on with taxes and businesses and am I going to be targeted by the IRS.'”
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He added: “So, for everybody, we see things that we’re concerned about with this administration, but there’s so much to be concerned about it that [it’s] hard to narrow down on one issue.”
“The American people know it,” Waltz says in the video, looking ahead to the midterm elections. “They see right through his spin that it was a great, fantastic success, and you’re going to feel it in November.”
A spokesperson for President Biden’s National Security Council drafted a memo last week defending the administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, writing that the president “refused to send another generation of Americans to fight a war that should have ended long ago,” according to a copy of the document obtained by Fox News Digital.
The defense came as Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee released a report critical of the withdrawal, accusing the administration of failing to evacuate some U.S.-trained Afghan military personnel and potentially creating a major national security risk.
The White House memo called the Republicans’ review a “partisan report” that is “riddled with inaccurate characterizations, cherry-picked information, and false claims.”
“Bringing our troops home strengthened our national security by better positioning us to confront the challenges of the future and put the United States in a stronger place to lead the world,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson wrote in the memo.
“It freed up critical military, intelligence, and other resources to ensure we are better poised to respond to today’s threats to international peace and stability.”
The Taliban quickly took over Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul and other major cities 12 months ago as U.S. troops prepared to withdraw by the end of August 2021 on Biden’s orders, timed for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which were largely planned on Afghan soil when the Taliban last controlled the country.
Thirteen U.S. service members and 170 others were killed during the withdrawal after a suicide bomber detonated explosives near Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
Fox News’ Paul Best and Kelly Laco contributed to this report.
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