Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican, called Sunday for “flexing our military muscles” to bring Americans home from Afghanistan as pressure built for the Biden administration to get tougher on evacuating the thousands left stranded.
“We should be doing everything possible to get Americans safely to the airport for evacuation,” said Ms. Ernst on ABC’s “This Week.” “We are the strongest military on the face of this planet, and we should be exercising those authorities to make sure that we’re flexing our military muscle, especially when it comes to evacuating Americans.”
Ms. Ernst, an Iowa Army National Guard combat veteran who served in Kuwait, described the effort to evacuate the Kabul embassy “one of the biggest debacles that we have seen in the last several decades.”
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scoffed at the Biden administration’s contention that the U.S. military lacked the ability to evacuate the Americans.
“That is nonsense. I’m a veteran. I know the capabilities of our young men and women. We could deliver, just the same way the French and the United Kingdom are delivering for their people,” Mr. Pompeo said Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“To hear that defeatist mentality, to say we don’t have the capacity to do that, first of all, it’s untrue. What they have not demonstrated yet is the will to do this,” he said. “I hope they’ll find that. I hope they’ll find that steel, that resolve.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Democrats should put aside trying to pass the $4.5 trillion infrastructure plan and that “the only focus of this Congress or this administration would be to get every single American out.”
“But when you listen to the secretary of State or secretary of Defense, they will use the term, ‘as many as we can.’ That is not the answer,” said Mr. McCarthy on “Sunday Morning Futures.” “We have the ability to get it out. We just need the authority from the president to send our troops out, to bring those Americans home. That’s what we owe to the American public.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters Wednesday that “I don’t have the capability to out and extend operations currently into Kabul” when asked about Americans and others unable to reach the Hamid Karzai International Airport, now behind Taliban checkpoints.
White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan said Sunday that the administration is working to remove “several thousand Americans” now seeking to escape, adding that the precise number is unknown because not all citizens register with the U.S. Embassy when they arrive or deregister when they leave.
“We are working hard to organize groups of Americans, to bring them on the airbase, to get them on flights and get them out of the country,” Mr. Sullivan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
He said that U.S. forces and their allies have evacuated nearly 8,000 people from Afghanistan in the last 24 hours.