Bentz Afghanistan Update

The following is a statement from U.S. Congressman Cliff Bentz:

My heart goes out to the families of the service members who lost a loved one due to the recent attack in Afghanistan. As we continue to learn more about this tragedy, I am praying for our troops, citizens, and those in harm’s way. The Biden Administration must get our people home as soon as possible.

To our veterans and their families who bravely answered the call to serve, please know that we thank you, that we stand by you, and that there is confidential support available for you during this immensely difficult time. If you or someone you know is in need of more resources to deal with this tragedy, please visit my website here.

If you are a service member, veteran, or a family member and need help talking through this tragedy, call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, or text 838-255

I recently received a classified briefing on the Biden Administration’s reckless and now deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan, and, although I cannot share the contents of the briefing, I can provide you with an update on “Biden’s Debacle” and my actions in Congress to address it.

It took about two weeks for the Taliban to take over Afghanistan – despite President Biden’s reassurance to the American people that this would not happen. And today, we have received the worst news of all: 13 U.S. service members have been killed in Kabul.

As Kabul fell early last week, many of us watched in horror as Afghan civilians frantically clung to departing U.S. Air Force planes in fatal attempts to escape the Taliban.

The terror that drove people to these extremes is now being felt by those Americans still stranded in Afghanistan because of the Biden Administration’s naively optimistic miscalculations. The Biden Administration has most recently estimated that there are at least 1,000 American citizens still in Afghanistan.

To date, more than 15 constituents have contacted my office asking that we do what we can to help more than 25 specific individuals escape Afghanistan. My office is working directly with The White House, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense on this situation.

If someone you know is stranded in Afghanistan, please contact my office at 541-776-4646.

I agree that America needed to leave Afghanistan. But designing an exit strategy that protects our enormous investment of lives and equipment and our nation’s reputation should have an essential part of any withdrawal. In this, the Biden Administration was grossly negligent because it failed to follow the conditions-based withdrawal established by the Trump Administration, and because it stuck with an arbitrary and flippant deadline.

It is obvious that President Biden chose symbolism over safety by withdrawing our Armed Forces so that our exit could coincide with the upcoming 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. As a result, we are now seeing “President Biden’s Saigon” and thousands of people – Americans and Afghan supporters – being put at needless risk.

Our allies and adversaries around the world are watching one of the most significant foreign policy and national security failures in a generation – causing irreparable damage to our nation’s image abroad.

The ‘biggest foreign policy disaster’ since the 1956 Suez crisis”– Chair of the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

“…a serious and far-reaching miscalculation by the [Biden] Administration…This does fundamental damage to the political and moral credibility of the West”– Chair of the German Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee.

I think The Economist magazine describes the situation best: “…America’s power to deter its enemies and assure its friends has diminished. Its intelligence was flawed, its planning rigid, its leaders capricious, and its concerns for its allies minimal.”

This is a catastrophe of President Biden’s own making and one which the Administration continues to deny.

I have called on President Biden to take the following, important steps:

  1. Prioritize the safe return home of all Americans still in Afghanistan
  2. Secure the safety of our remaining troops, diplomats, and our partners attempting to flee the country
  3. Account for all U.S. military equipment now in the hands of the Taliban
  4. Determine how to fill the intelligence gaps created by this reckless withdrawal

I cosponsored House Resolution 607, which outlines many of these important actions and condemns President Biden’s flawed decision to ignore the conditions of withdrawal and abruptly withdraw our troops from Afghanistan.

I recently managed on the House Floor, H.R.3385, the HOPE for Afghan Special Immigrant Visas Act of 2021. I voted for the bill, which passed the U.S. House with bipartisan support, on June 29, 2021. It is currently in the U.S. Senate.

The bill addresses the backlog of requests by Afghans who worked with us and who now face serious threats from the Taliban due to such cooperation. The bill makes reasonable and measured accommodations to allow completion of required medical exams after arrival in the United States.

As we continue to deal with the realities of this situation, we cannot forget our commitment to care for and stand by our service members, veterans, and military families who gave so much to the fight for freedom, democracy, and a civilized (rather than barbaric) government in Afghanistan. We will always honor their service and sacrifice.
As your congressman, I am continuing to monitor the situation in Afghanistan and to find additional ways for my office and Congress to help. It is an honor to represent you in Congress, and my offices are standing by to answer your calls.