Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speak to reporters at the Pentagon in Alexandria, Va., on August 18 about the U.S. withdrawal in Afghanistan. File Photo by Lisa Ferdinando/DoD/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin III and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will appear in Congress on Tuesday -- and be the first top military officials to face questioning about the precarious final U.S. withdrawal in Afghanistan last month.
Austin, Milley and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, will all testify before the Senate armed services committee, beginning at 9:30 a.m. EDT.
The military leaders are expected to face intense questions from lawmakers at the hearing about the pullout, which culminated in scenes of chaos and violence in and around the airport in Kabul last month.
The men are also expected to answer for a drone strike that killed several Afghan civilians in the waning days of the departure, which was a response to a suicide attack at the airport and a nearby hotel that killed 13 American troops.
McKenzie offered an apology this month when he said the retaliatory drone strike killed civilians by mistake.
President Joe Biden is also expected to receive criticism at Tuesday's hearing for failing to heed warnings from military leaders on the ground during the evacuation.
"President Biden and his advisers didn't listen to his combat commander," Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking Republican on the committee, will say in his opening statement, according to Politico.
"He didn't listen to Congress. And he failed to anticipate what all of us knew would happen.
"The administration needs to be honest: Because of President Biden's disastrous decision, the terrorist threat to American families is rising significantly, while our ability to deal with these threats has been decimated."
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley deliver remarks about the end of the 20-year military mission in Afghanistan at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., on September 1. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo