GOP Drafts Articles of Impeachment Against Defense Secretary Austin for Afghan Disaster

lloyd austin impeachment
U.S. Secretary of Defense, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

By Bethany Blankley (The Center Square)

U.S. Rep. Cory Mills, R-Florida, told Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last week that he was drafting articles of impeachment against him for “dereliction of duty.”

Mills cited the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan that put the Taliban back in power, led to the death of 13 service members, left thousands of Americans and Afghan allies behind, and left $83 billion worth of military training equipment, weapons and ammunition to U.S. enemies.

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At a House Armed Services Committee hearing held on March 29 on oversight of the U.S. Defense Department budget, Mills, an Army combat veteran and Bronze Star recipient, told Austin he’d already drafted articles of impeachment against him and planned “to hold him accountable.”

Mills asked Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who were both called to testify before the committee, “If an officer has a dereliction of duty, there are many articles which could remove him for that reasoning, is that correct?” They both replied in the affirmative.

He said his understanding of the definition of dereliction of duty “is a person’s purposeful or accidental failure to perform his obligations. Would we agree with that?” Austin shook his head in the affirmative.

“There’s also willful dereliction of duty,” Mills continued, “which in my opinion is nothing more than a failure through negligence.”

Mills addressed Austin directly, stating, “We have seen where we have failed to secure a status of forces agreement during Iraq withdrawal, which has now allowed ISIS to retake key locations in Baghdad. We have Afghanistan in control of the Taliban … with billions of dollars in weapons, armament, defense articles, millions of dollars in cash, thereby actually creating probably one of the most well-funded and well-positioned terrorist organizations in the world. Even though our intent in going into Afghanistan was actually to stop it from being a safe haven of terrorism.”

Mills cited U.S. foreign policy failures in the Middle East, saying they were personal because of his combat service and because before he was elected to Congress he helped “conduct one of the very first successful overland rescues of Americans who were left behind in this botched withdrawal.”

He also cited an example of a sergeant who could have taken out a suicide bomber in Afghanistan and saved American lives but there were escalation of force or rules of engagement not allowing him to do so, Mills said. “The idea of being deployed and going down without an escalation of force or clear rules of engagement even after receiving a BOLO identifying the target is a failure in leadership,” Mills said, looking Austin directly in the eye.

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“In my opinion, this is willful,” he added. “That is why Secretary Austin not only do I believe that you should have resigned,” but his actions constituted “a dereliction of duty.”

“I take that very seriously, especially for our armed service members and those who are looking for accountability as a result of this botched withdrawal,” he continued. … “I’ve already drafted my articles of impeachment for dereliction of duty.”

U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, was next called to speak but first asked Austin if he wanted to respond to Mills’ comments. Austin replied by saying, “The congressman is certainly entitled to his opinion.” He then looked at Mills and said, “We all thank you for your service. I don’t take a back bench when it comes to patriotism, devotion to our cause here, protection to our troops.”

Appearing to be taken off guard, Austin began his response calmly but his tone escalated to appear to be combative, saying, “In the short 41 years that I spent in uniform, … almost six years of that was in a combat zone. So, I get it. I commanded Bagram Airforce Base so I know a little bit about Bagram Airforce Base. But again, you’re welcome to your opinion and so I’ll leave it at that.”

On the day of the hearing, Mills published a short statement, saying, “When we had the chance, our leadership blew it. Sergeant Major Vargas-Andrews had the bomber in his sight, and in my view, it was a failure of leadership that he was not given the OK to take him down. This is not about politics; this is about accountability. That is why I drafted articles of impeachment to hold Secretary Lloyd Austin accountable for his dereliction of duty.

Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.

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