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Friday, June 9, 2023

White House, Kirby face backlash from military veterans for defense of chaotic Afghan pullout

A retired Marine who executed many civilian rescues from Afghanistan offered a blistering rebuttal to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby and his presentation of the Biden administration’s after-action report, calling the retired admiral’s presentation “a national tragedy.”

Kirby held an at-times confrontational press conference Thursday where he defended the Biden administration’s withdrawal as largely successful and noted the after-action report’s purpose was “not accountability.”

“The purpose of the document that we’re putting out today is to sort of collate the chief reviews and findings of the agencies that did after action reviews,” he said, after Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy asked who might be “fired” over the chaos.

“For all this talk of chaos. I just didn’t see it. Not from my perch,” Kirby said later in the presser, adding that at one point in the evacuation, planes were departing Hamid Karzai International Airport every 48 minutes with Afghans and Americans alike aboard.


Chad Robichaux, John Kirby

Chad Robichaux, John Kirby (Fox/Reuters)

“[N]ot one single mission was missed. So I’m sorry. I just don’t buy the whole argument of chaos,” he said.

Those comments incensed Chad Robichaux, a veteran of the Afghanistan war and co-founder of the Save Our Allies group that has evacuated Americans and others from Afghanistan and Ukraine.

Robichaux characterized Kirby as someone who knew his remarks were not entirely accurate regarding facts on the ground, and said the American people see through the administration’s “lies.”

“It is no shocker when Biden or his clown-show press secretaries lie, but to have a former U.S. Navy admiral do the same is a national tragedy,” Robichaux said.

“As a fellow veteran it makes me sad to see former military leaders turn on our citizens for personal and political gain.”

He called the presentation of Kirby as a retired flag officer and military adviser “one of the biggest lies in this week’s brief,” pointing to his most recent roles as a spokesperson in the Obama and Biden administrations and as an analyst for CNN.

“He is a long way from 1986 when he raised his hand in an oath to serve the American people,” Robichaux charged. “His loyalty is to protecting corrupt politicians in DC — not the people.”

Robichaux’s group, Save Our Allies, was also instrumental in rescuing Fox News correspondent Benjamin Hall after he had been gravely wounded in Ukraine.

Save Our Allies worked closely with top Biden administration officials, including at the Pentagon and State Department, to bring Hall home.


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Robichaux previously estimated that, given the reported number of applicants for evacuation or asylum – which included the Marine’s friend and former interpreter Azizullah Aziz –it would have taken 140 years at the 2021 pace for all qualified persons to be evacuated from Afghanistan.

Following Kirby’s briefing Thursday, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also expressed outrage at criticisms of “the previous (Trump) administration,” saying Biden made a “political decision” to announce a withdrawal date in spite of reported advice to the contrary.

On Kirby’s part, the spokesman said the after-action report could now be reviewed by Congress, which can “lay out things that could have gone better.”

“Nobody is saying that everything was perfect, but there was a lot that went right.  And a lot of Afghans are now living better lives in this country and other countries around the world because of the sacrifices and the work of so many American government officials,” he said Thursday.

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“The review process isn’t over,” Kirby added. “This is the next muscle-movement in what will be a long process to better understand and comprehend and adjust to what we learned and what we did in Afghanistan.”

Retired Green Beret Scott Mann, whose “Task Force: Pineapple” also executed civilian evacuations within Afghanistan, told Fox News on Friday the reported lack of proverbial ‘lessons learned’ was “egregious.”

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“I’ve been talking to veterans and veterans groups all morning about this. And one of the reasons that I think that veterans are so upset about this is like my friend… an Afghanistan combat veteran, says, it’s not about what happened,” Mann said on “The Story.”

“[T]he absence of accountability: What worries veterans so much is that we’ve got all of these problems now with violent extremist groups coming up in Afghanistan. We’ve got a massive moral injury on our veteran population — And if you’re not willing to take accountability for your actions as a leader at any level, then there’s a real good chance you’re not going to take any actions to fix what happened.”

On Friday, retired Lt. Col. Danny Davis disagreed with the claims of lack of “chaos,” telling “America Reports” that there is no way to categorize what was happening on the ground in Kabul in August 2021 other than chaos.


“I don’t know what definition of ‘not chaos’ you can have when you have those images that are iconic … where people are chasing the aircraft as it is driving across the tarmac… ad of course, the catastrophic explosion that killed a lot of U.S. Marines,” Davis said.

Fox News Digital has reached out to the White House for comment. As of publication time, there has been no response.

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