Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., Has long advocated a plan to evacuate the nearly 18,000 Afghan interpreters, allies and their families from Afghanistan before US troops are fully withdrawn. He told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” that President Joe Biden’s speech on Thursday represented a step in the right direction.
“This was a huge victory today for all our Afghan friends and allies,”
Moulton noted that the president did not specifically name a commander and that he would like to see the details of how the United States will “get Afghan interpreters from remote, rural parts of the country to a central evacuation site.”
Biden announced that the U.S. military will end its withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 31, almost two weeks earlier than its September 11 deadline. He reaffirmed in his speech that the United States “will continue to ensure that we take on the Afghan citizens working on the side – alongside US forces,” and that the United States “has already dramatically accelerated the procedure for special immigrant visas to: bring them to the United States. ”
Host Shepard Smith also asked Moulton whether he believes the Taliban will take over Afghanistan when the United States withdraws completely from the country. Moulton said the United States should be prepared, regardless of the outcome.
“Look, the bottom line is that we need to be prepared for both cases, and one of the questions I want to ask in detail, especially in classified sessions with the Armed Services Committee, is what contingency plans they have for the possibility of the Taliban simply overthrowing the Afghan government, ”Moulton said.
Biden defended the U.S. military’s rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan after a journalist asked if the Taliban takeover of the country is inevitable.
“The Afghan troops have 300,000 well-equipped, as well-equipped as any army in the world and an air force against something like 75,000 Taliban,” Biden said. “It’s not inevitable.”
Moulton said that although he does not know he has as much confidence as Biden in the Afghan security forces, he believes the president is right in saying “we have provided them with a lot of capacity.”
America’s longest war has cost about 2,300 US troops and left thousands more wounded. More than 100,000 Afghans are estimated to have been killed or wounded since the conflict began. The United States has spent $ 825 billion on combat operations, according to the Department of Defense via a CRS report to Congress.
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.