HELENA — At a Tuesday press conference, Governor Greg Gianforte strongly criticized how the United States withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan has proceeded.
“Like many Montanans, I’ve been shocked at the images and reports coming out of Afghanistan. I don’t have to tell you they’re appalling,” Gianforte said.
The governor specifically took aim at the Biden administration.
“American citizens in Afghanistan are in danger. Unfortunately, the Biden administration is unsure how many Americans are still in Afghanistan,” said Gianforte.
The withdrawal from Afghanistan was negotiated by the Trump administration and the Taliban, with the former president offering to meet with Taliban Leadership at Camp David.
The original agreement was to be out by May 1, 2021. President Biden pushed that back to September 2021 believing more time would be needed to evacuate U.S. citizens and allies.
On Aug. 14 Biden said in a statement: “Shortly before [Trump] left office, he also drew U.S. Forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500. Therefore, when I became President, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our Forces and our allies’ Forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict.”
Biden’s critics, including Gianforte, have pointed to mixed-messaging from the administration and other perceived fumbling as the Taliban took the country.
“Our withdrawal was a poorly prepared and rushed calamity, and it leaves many at-risk,” said Gianforte. “These allies of ours are now in hiding, their next knock at their door could be the Taliban.”
When asked if Montana would be open to Afghan refugees, Gianforte said priority needs to be getting U.S. citizens and allies to safety.
"It’s then going to be a decision for local communities to decide how we relocate those people. I think we have an obligation,” said the governor.
MTN News recently reported the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Missoula posted on Facebook stating the US has started relocating Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants and one of the resettlement locations is Missoula.