Florida Republican Cory Mills filed articles of impeachment against Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday, accusing him of “high crimes and misdemeanors” in connection with the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan.
The measure proposed by Mills was obtained exclusively by the Washington Examiner, and it claims that Austin “intentionally abandoned” American troops in Afghanistan.
“Despite having nearly 8 months as Secretary of Defense to prepare for and execute a smooth and orderly departure from Afghanistan, Secretary Austin failed to adequately prepare for such a withdrawal, including through his decisions during the catastrophic events of July and August 2021, which initially resulted in as many as 9,000 American citizens being abandoned in Afghanistan,” the bill reads.
Republicans and ex-military personnel have long faulted President Joe Biden for going against the advice of his top military advisers by planning to completely withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by August 2021.
Mills, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a former soldier in the 82nd Airborne Division, rescued civilians from the Taliban in the days following the American pullout. Mills, a political contender at the time, led the first civilian overland rescue effort of Americans.
“High-level officials in this administration blatantly ignored intel that Americans and our allied partners in Kabul would be left behind in harm’s way unless the U.S. corrected course in our withdrawal,” Mills said in a statement.
“It’s not enough for Congress to hold committee hearings. We must start taking real action to address the complete failure of this administration,” Mills continued. “Tomorrow marks two years to the day that we lost 13 of our brave service members. The fact that it has been two entire years without any member of this administration being held accountable is unfathomable. That changes today.”
The resolution claims that Austin’s actions caused the “unnecessary deaths” of 13 U.S. service members in Kabul. A new book, Kabul: The Untold Story of Biden’s Fiasco and the American Warriors Who Fought to the End, revealed that the Taliban failed to act on U.S. intelligence and conduct an assault on ISIS-K members just days before the 13 members were killed in a terrorist attack.
“In my thirty years around the United States military, I have never witnessed a Secretary of Defense more focused on putting politics over military readiness, troop welfare and our national security, than Secretary Austin,” said Chad Robichaux, a former Recon Marine who rescued more than 17,000 people following the Afghanistan 2021 withdrawal. “He, along with this administration, have destroyed parts of our military history, culture, troop morale, and most concerning, our readiness.”
During that period, defense authorities put up the argument that despite the Taliban’s suboptimal characteristics as a partner, they might be deemed reliable in this specific context due to the shared objective of expediting the withdrawal of the United States forces from the South Central Asian nation.
In March, Austin provided testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, expressing his lack of remorse on the manner in which the pullout was executed.
However, former Marine Mark Geist, who aided in the rescue of more than 100 Americans from the Taliban in 2021, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner that Austin “failed our troops.”
“Our troops, as well as the American public, expect leadership and guidance to be the voice for the service men and women on the ground. And Secretary Austin was not that,” Geist said.
The Pentagon told the Washington Examiner it does “not have anything to provide” when asked for a comment on impeachment efforts against Austin.