The State Department should plan better for worst-case scenarios, strengthen its crisis management capabilities and ensure that top officials hear “the broadest possible range of views,” including ones that challenge their assumptions and decisions.
Those were some of the key findings of a State Department review of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, which contributed to the sudden collapse of the Afghan government and required a massive airlift to rescue roughly 125,000 U.S. citizens and Afghans who had assisted the United States.
The review also portrayed a department that scrambled to respond to the crisis due to unfilled senior positions, unclear leadership on planning efforts and a shortage of seasoned diplomats in Kabul.
The document addresses what even many Democrats call a foreign policy debacle for the Biden administration: its failure to more adequately prepare for the abrupt collapse of the Afghan state and avoid days of harrowing chaos in Kabul surrounding an emergency exit that included a terrorist bombing at the city’s airport that killed as many as 170 civilians and 13 U.S. troops.
Biden officials have long said that few envisioned such…