House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., praised President Joe Biden's handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal this week, and said that leaving behind millions of dollars' worth of military equipment is ''what happens'' when you leave the country.
''I do believe the president's decision was based on one that reduced the prospect of any attack on our homeland,'' Pelosi told San Francisco KPIX-5 News on Wednesday. ''This is what happens when you withdraw: Some equipment is left there.''
Pelosi went on to say that it was left only because the Afghan army was supposed to use it to defend their country, which did not happen as the Taliban stormed through the nation in 10 days, capturing the capital city of Kabul on Sunday.
''It was hoped it would be used by the Afghan military to defend its own country,'' she said. ''The fact that it did not, and could not, was all more the reason for us to leave.''
National security adviser Jake Sullivan told the White House press corps Tuesday that it was one of the ''difficult choices'' Biden had to make regarding the withdrawal.
''Those Black Hawks were not given to the Taliban. They were given to the Afghan National Security Forces to be able to defend themselves — at the specific request of [then-Afghan] President [Ashraf] Ghani, who came to the Oval Office and asked for additional air capability, among other things,'' Sullivan said. ''So, the president had a choice. He could not give it to them with the risk that it would fall into the Taliban's hands eventually, or he could give it to them with the hope that they could deploy it in service of defending their country. Both of those options had risks; he had to choose. And he made a choice.''
Videos from Afghanistan show the Taliban with missiles, heavy equipment, and arms left behind by U.S. forces during last week's chaotic pullout.
Biden said this week that he is ordering 6,000 troops back into the country to safely retrieve the remaining Americans, as well as Afghans that helped the U.S. effort over the last 20 years.
''I was asked to authorize — and I did — 6,000 U.S. troops to deploy to Afghanistan for the purpose of assisting in the departure of U.S. and allied civilian personnel from Afghanistan, and to evacuate our Afghan allies and vulnerable Afghans to safety outside of Afghanistan,'' Biden said in a speech to the nation Monday. ''Our troops are working to secure the airfield and to ensure continued operation of both the civilian and military flights. We're taking over air traffic control.''
Biden defended his decision to leave Afghanistan now rather than waiting for better conditions on the ground.
''There would have been no cease-fire after May 1. There was no agreement protecting our forces after May 1. There was no status quo of stability without American casualties after May 1. There was only the cold reality of either following through on the agreement to withdraw our forces or escalating the conflict and sending thousands more American troops back into combat in Afghanistan, lurching into the third decade of conflict,'' he said. ''I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I've learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces.''
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