The Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee held its first hearing Wednesday on the United States’ troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, hearing from a Marine sergeant who was nearly killed in a terrorist attack.

Marine Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews, 25, gave vivid details of the injuries he received during an attack that killed 13 United States service members and 170 Afghan civilians on Aug. 26, 2021.

“I opened my eyes to Marines dead or unconscious lying around me. … My body was overwhelmed from the trauma of the blast. My abdomen had been ripped open, every inch of my exposed body except for my face took ball bearings and shrapnel,” Vargas-Andrews said.

A statement by the committee said that Vargas-Andrews was appearing on Wednesday in his personal capacity, and not representing the Department of Defense or the U.S. Marine Corps.

The committee said in a statement that Wednesday’s hearing was meant to build upon a report released last August that said the Biden administration had not handed over enough documents regarding the withdrawal.

“The Biden administration’s, and specifically the State Department’s, refusal to provide Congress with the necessary information regarding America’s unconditional withdrawal from Afghanistan has hampered the Minority Committee’s ability to complete a thorough investigation,” the report said.

The hearing is available on YouTube.

As the United States completed the withdrawal, 13 U.S. troops were killed on Aug. 26 in coordinated bombings by ISIS-K fighters near the airport in Kabul. President Joe Biden later ordered a drone strike against ISIS-K targets in Kabul, which also killed several civilians.

ISIS-K is an offshoot of the Islamic State operating in Khorasan Province.

More than 124,000 people were evacuated from the country and U.S. weapons worth billions of dollars were left behind.

Aiden Gunderson, a former Army combat medic, also sharply criticized the withdrawal on Wednesday.

“I want Americans to know the truth: that the Afghanistan withdrawal was an organizational failure at multiple levels,” Gunderson said. “We came to the middle of the runway where there were blood-saturated, dusty clothing and headscarves smoldered on the ground.” At this moment, I truly understood that the Afghans were risking everything, even death, to escape the Taliban.”

A report by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction concluded that the withdrawal of U.S. military forces was a contributing factor to the collapse of the Afghan government in August 2021, which was followed by Taliban troops swiftly overtaking Kabul.

“The single most important factor in the collapse … was the U.S. decision to withdraw military forces and contractors from Afghanistan through signing the U.S.-Taliban agreement in February 2020 under the Trump administration, followed by President Biden’s withdrawal announcement in April 2021,” the report said.

SIGAR added that morale among the Afghan forces had been “destroyed” by the U.S. withdrawal and especially by negotiations between former President Donald Trump — who initially reached the deal to withdraw U.S. troops — and the Taliban.

The Foreign Affairs Committee is not the only panel in the House seeking more information from the Biden administration on Afghanistan.

“The Biden administration was tragically unprepared for the Afghanistan withdrawal and their decisions in the region directly resulted in a national security and humanitarian catastrophe,” House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., said in a statement.

Letters were sent by Comer and other Republicans to the White House, the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff seeking information for oversight hearings.

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