Ted Cruz Says 'Political' Decision to Close Bagram Air Base Was 'Catastrophic'

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has criticized the "catastrophic" decision to abandon the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan following the attack near Kabul airport on Thursday that killed 13 American troops and more than 100 Afghans.

Bagram, about 25 miles from Kabul, was the largest U.S. military base in the country before it was abandoned on July 1 ahead of the August 31 deadline for the final withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Cruz took to Twitter on Friday and shared a tweet from Fox News's Brit Hume. Hume had posted part of a transcript of remarks about leaving Bagram delivered by General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on August 18.

Milley said at the time: "Our task given to us at that time, our task was to protect the embassy in order for the embassy personnel to continue to function with their consular service and all that.

"If we were to keep both Bagram and the embassy going, that would be a significant number of military forces that would have exceeded what we had or stayed the same or exceeded what we had. So we had to collapse one or the other, and a decision was made."

Cruz wrote on Friday: "What Milley said on 8/18 is exactly what DoD said on our briefing today: They abandoned Bagram bc they were ordered to reduce troop levels below that needed to maintain both Bagram & embassy security."

"This political decision—to close Bagram BEFORE evacuation—proved catastrophic," he said.

What Milley said on 8/18 is exactly what DoD said on our briefing today:

They abandoned Bagram bc they were ordered to reduce troop levels below that needed to maintain both Bagram & embassy security.

This political decision—to close Bagram BEFORE evacuation—proved catastrophic https://t.co/QzVdLr5mOm

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 28, 2021

Cruz is among a number of Republican lawmakers who have criticized the decision to withdraw from the Bagram Air Base. The base was reportedly abandoned in the middle of the night without its new Afghan commander being informed. The Taliban later took control of the base.

President Joe Biden addressed the issue of Bagram Air Base in remarks at the White House on Thursday following the attack at Kabul airport. He was asked if he had rejected a recommendation to keep control of the base or recapture it.

"On the tactical questions of how to conduct an evacuation or a war, I gather up all the major military personnel that are in Afghanistan — the commanders, as well as the Pentagon. And I ask for their best military judgment: what would be the most efficient way to accomplish the mission," he said.

"They concluded — the military — that Bagram was not much value added, that it was much wiser to focus on Kabul. And so, I followed that recommendation," Biden said.

U.S. troops are due to leave Afghanistan on Tuesday and Biden has previously rejected an appeal from allies to extend the deadline. Many western nations have already ended their evacuation efforts and pulled out.

Ted Cruz Speaks About the Southern Border
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gestures as he speaks during a news conference on the U.S. Southern Border and President Joe Biden’s immigration policies, in the Hart Senate Office Building on May 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. Cruz has called the decision to abandon Bagram Air Base "catastrophic." Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images