A U.S military aircraft takes off from the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.

A U.S military aircraft takes off from the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. Wali Sabawoon / AP

Afghanistan Watchdog to Brief Lawmakers on Tuesday

“It is vital to understand what happened in Afghanistan,” said House Republicans in requesting the bipartisan briefing.

The federal watchdog for Afghanistan reconstruction will brief House lawmakers on Tuesday morning at the request of two key Republicans. 

Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan on Aug. 15, Reps. James Comer, R-Ky., ranking member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and Glenn Grothman, R-Wis., ranking member of the committee’s national security panel, on Aug. 19 sent a letter to Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko asking for a member-level briefing by August 26. 

While that deadline wasn’t met, the bipartisan briefing will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 31, the same day U.S. troops are to complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan after almost 20 years at war. The United States will continue efforts to evacuate U.S. nationals and Afghan allies  beyond that withdrawal deadline, officials have said. 

Since 2001, the United States has spent about $837 billion on warfighting and $145 billion on reconstruction efforts in a war that has claimed the lives of 2,443 Americans and 1,144 allied troops, as well as 66,000 Afghan troops and more than 48,000 Afghan civilians, as documented by SIGAR. 

“All of this work crumbled in a matter of weeks, culminating with the Taliban regaining control of Afghanistan for the first time in nearly two decades,” wrote the lawmakers in their letter. “It is vital to understand what happened in Afghanistan, how previous U.S. assistance was used, how much previously appropriated assistance remains unobligated, and, frankly, if ongoing assistance is legal and in the best interest of the U.S.” 

Comer and Grothman noted that President Biden requested $3.3 billion for the Afghan Security Forces in his budget request for fiscal 2022, which would be in addition to the approximate $7 billion in appropriated funds that have not been spent yet. 

“Since President Biden did not condition his withdrawal on the Taliban severing ties with al-Qaeda and other terror groups, it is unclear if continued U.S. assistance would find its way into the hands of terrorists and be used to finance attacks on Americans,” they wrote. “This is a question that must be answered.” 

Since the lawmakers made their request, more than 100 people, including 13 U.S. troops, were killed in an attack on the airport in Kabul by ISIS-K. U.S. forces conducted a drone strike at an ISIS location late on Friday in retaliation. 

The SIGAR office declined to comment for this story.