Former CENTCOM commander McKenzie accepts responsibility for Afghanistan airport attack – Washington Examiner

Former U.S. Central Command leader Gen. Frank McKenzie accepted full responsibility on Tuesday for the Afghanistan airport attack that killed 13 U.S. servicemembers in 2021.

McKenzie, who testified in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that as the commander in charge of the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan, he was the one to blame for the attack during Abbey Gate.

“I was the overall commander, and I and I alone bear full military responsibility for what happened at Abbey Gate,” McKenzie said. “It was a tragic event, one of many that have occurred over our 20-year engagement in Afghanistan.”

McKenzie, along with retired Gen. Mark Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also vowed to get more answers on the attack for the Gold Star families that lost their loved ones. 

Retired Gen. Mark Milley, left, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, left, and retired Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, former commander of the U.S. Central Command, speak to the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“We owe them answers,” Milley said in his opening statement. “There’s nothing that I can say or do that’s going to fill that gaping hole in your heart. But as I’ve told you before, I’m committed. I will honor that commitment to get you the answers to get you to the truth.”

The comments occurred during a hearing on the withdrawal, led by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Mike McCaul (R-TX), who has been critical of the Biden administration’s handling of the military retreat. 

McCaul has been trying to get documents related to military communications during the withdrawal, which could shed light on what happened in the days after the Taliban regained command of Kabul. He has even threatened to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress after he failed to produce subpoenaed documents.

The Biden administration has rejected claims from conservatives that it botched the exit from the Middle Eastern country, instead placing blame on former President Donald Trump for allowing the situation to devolve enough that the hurried withdrawal was necessary.


McKenzie also tried to lay blame on the policies and events surrounding the withdrawal.

“It remains my opinion that if there was culpability in this attack, it lies in policy decisions that created the environment of August 2021 in Kabul,” McKenzie said. “The simple fact is this: On the battlefield, even with good planning, tremendous execution by bright people on the ground, the enemy sometimes has success.”