A U.S. Navy admiral has reported that “high-profile” requests were a huge cause of disruption in the evacuation of Afghanistan last year. Rear Adm. Peter Vasely, who is a special assistant to the Director of the Navy Staff noted that the calls for help during the evacuation of Americans from Afghanistan which is now under Taliban control, “created competition for already stressed resources” causing a distraction during the essential evacuation proceedings.
Vasley’s remarks, come after a story posted by the Washington Post featured comments from a 2,000-page report that dealt with the 17-day operation in Kabul.
When asked under sworn testimony, Vasley verified the reports that claimed that Pope Francis and First Lady Jill Biden had both intervened to request assistance for specific people during the evacuation efforts.
“I was being contacted by representatives from the Holy See to assist the Italian military contingent … in getting through groups … of special interest to the Vatican,” said Vasley in his interview last September. Further, he added, “I cannot stress enough how these high-profile requests ate up bandwidth and created competition for already stressed resources.”
In fact to handle the high volume of calls and requests Vasley had to establish a “coordination cell” from the US operations office in Kabul’s international airport.
The declassified report contained dozens of interviews given by military officials, but the claims were rejected by President Biden during his NBC news interview. In reference to the accusations made in the report, Biden said “No. That’s not what I was told.”
Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has faced immense criticism both nationally and internationally and it resulted in 13 American service members dying during the tumulus evacuation efforts after a bomb exploded near an airport checkpoint in Kabul. According to the Pentagon’s examination, the August 2021 suicide bombing in Kabul was “not preventable.”