The U.S. Army veteran who organized Monday’s overland evacuation of four U.S. citizens from Afghanistan to a neighboring country said the State Department played only a small role in the effort and is exaggerating its involvement to “save face” for the Biden administration.
Cory Mills told Fox News on Monday that he and a private team of military veterans led the effort to evacuate an American mother, Mariam, and her three children who had been left behind as the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of August.
Mr. Mills said his team worked for weeks to help Mariam escape, first attempting to place her and her children on a U.S. government flight from the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul where they were refused admission multiple times. The team then attempted to secure a private charter flight from Mazar-i-Sharif but said the planes were not cleared for takeoff.
Mr. Mills then settled on an overland evacuation plan, which his team carried out on Monday.
Throughout the ordeal, Mr. Mills, a recipient of the Bronze Star who served in the Defense Department during the Trump administration and is running as a Republican for a Florida House seat in November, told Fox News that the State Department provided little assistance.
“It’s like we carried the ball to the 99-and-a-half yard line and them taking it that last half yard and being like, ‘Look what we did,’” Mr. Mills said Monday.
“The fact [is] that they’re spinning this, trying to take 100% credit when they didn’t track this family, when they placated this family, when the mother, who was under extreme stress and extreme pressure, reached out to the State Department multiple times and got no help,” he said.
While Mr. Mills said the State Department did meet the family at the border, they were not involved in the most dangerous parts of the planning and execution.
A State Department spokesperson said Monday that the department “facilitated the safe departure of four U.S. citizens from Afghanistan via an overland route.”
“U.S. Embassy personnel were present to greet them as they crossed out of Afghanistan,” the statement read.
“This is an attempt to save face by the administration for the Americans they left behind,” Mr. Mills said of the State Department‘s statement. “This is a woman with three children from age 15 all the way down to two years old. And they did nothing to try to expedite this.’”
The State Department stands by its claim that it helped in the evacuation.
“The department assisted four Americans depart Afghanistan via an overland route on Monday,” a State Department spokesperson said Tuesday. “We provided guidance to them, worked to facilitate their safe passage, and embassy officials greeted the Americans once they had crossed the border.”
“In order to protect their privacy and preserve the viability of our tactics, we’re not in a position to offer additional information,” the spokesperson added.