High ranking Air Force official speaks up over mismanaged withdraw from Afghanistan

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Newly appointed Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Layman (left) accepts the 148th Fighter Wing’s Command Chief plaque from retiring Command Chief Master Sgt. Jodi Stauber during a transfer of authority ceremony held at the wing in Duluth, Minn. Feb. 28th, 2010. The plaque is symbolic of the authority the Command Chief holds while acting in this prestigious role. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Donald Acton)


Brady Slater

Duluth News Tribune, Minn.

The first female command chief of the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth had strong words for President Joe Biden on Friday.

“He’s our commander in chief, but I would dare say he is undeserving of the title,” Jodi Stauber said Friday.

Stauber has since retired from the 148th, and is wife to U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, R- Hermantown. She was appearing in a virtual conference arranged by the Republican National Committee.

“When I think about Afghanistan and those women, those children and those young girls who are left behind now at the hands of the Taliban, who are weaponized now with our U.S. dollars, with the finest military equipment there is to get … it’s devastating. It’s absolutely devastating,” Stauber said. “To think about the Americans left behind, our allies left behind. It’s devastating to think about how we’ve lost credibility around the world now because of Biden’s incompetence.”

Jodi Stauber has previously served a tour of duty during the second war with Iraq.

She appeared alongside other former military service members Friday, all condemning the Biden-led withdrawal from Afghanistan earlier this month.

Nebraska U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, U.S. Air Force veteran, referred to the at-times chaotic and deadly withdrawal as “self-inflicted” and “a colossal disaster.”

“People are struggling with this because they poured their heart and soul into this fight for 20 years,” Bacon said.

It’s not the first time Jodi Stauber has been outspoken during her husband’s term in Congress, which began in 2018. She appeared last August on President Donald Trump’s campaign trail in Hermantown, as part of the group “Women for Trump.”

At that event, Jodi Stauber said she woke up thankful every morning Trump was then president.

“We are a military family,” Jodi Stauber said then. “And our biggest concern as a military family is safety and security.”

Earlier this month, Biden ended U.S. involvement in Afghanistan after 20 years of war. The president shared his rationale during an Aug. 16 speech, saying he wouldn’t leave the responsibility to a fifth U.S. president.

“I cannot and will not ask our troops to fight on endlessly in another country’s civil war, taking casualties, suffering life-shattering injuries, leaving families broken by grief and loss,” Biden said. “This is not in our national security interest. It is not what the American people want. It is not what our troops, who have sacrificed so much over the past two decades, deserve.”

The U.S. entered into war with Taliban-held and terrorist-friendly Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida terrorist attacks on American soil which killed close to 3,000 people.

The war saw early success, with the U.S. and allies beating back the Taliban and helping install a national government. But war and occupation lingered for 20 years, leaving a trail of bodies, wounded psyches and evidence of military and U.S. leadership questioning the mission and why the U.S. was still involved.

Shortly after Biden ordered withdrawal of U.S. troops in August, the Afghan military collapsed under Taliban attack, leaving the U.S. to negotiate its exit with the regime against which it first went to war and had once defeated.

Bacon explained he thought U.S. air support of the Afghan army had proven “highly effective,” and that removal of U.S. air support and its mechanics to repair and maintain the Afghan fleet proved crippling to the Afghan national defenses.

“It explains why we had this rapid disaster,” Bacon said.

The U.S. and coalition forces ultimately evacuated more than 115,000 Americans and allies from the country. But a suicide bomber in Kabul killed 103 people in late August, including 13 American soldiers, and wounded scores of others as the airport was crushed with people seeking to leave the country in the final days of American involvement in the war.

“When people say the longest war is over, that’s ignorance,” Bacon said. “These people are still at war — al-Qaida is still at war. …”

Additional efforts to continue to remove the last 100 or so Americans are ongoing, with the U.S. State Department coordinating efforts with the Taliban — a further bone of contention with Republicans.

Polls have varied on Biden’s handling of the war’s conclusion. None of the participants in the panel Friday addressed other presidential decisions which helped shape the end of the war.

Jodi Stauber concluded her remarks by reading the Airman’s Creed, ending with “I will never leave an airman behind, I will never falter, and I will not fail.”

Upon conclusion, Jodi Stauber commented: “Do we have a commander in chief that lives by those words?”

Rep. Stauber has been critical of Biden on social media, saying it was “heartbreaking” that Americans were left behind.

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