Fox News National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin noticed something Tuesday missing from President Joe Biden’s speech at the White House that almost everyone else missed.
When Biden was addressing the nation regarding the Afghanistan withdrawal disaster, he failed to include one of his most common sign-offs.
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“…and may God bless our troops.”
“It’s interesting because I didn’t actually hear President Biden speaking to our troops,” Griffin noted to Fox News host Dana Perino.
“There’s always that catchphrase at the end ‘God bless our troops’ but I didn’t hear him addressing our troops.I didn’t hear him addressing veterans,” she noted. “I didn’t hear any sort of empathy whatsoever.”
“The military, as you know… they salute smartly when they’re given an order. They get as much done as they possibly can as quickly as they can,” Griffin said about the chaos at the Kabul airport during the frantic evacuations of Americans.
“I spoke to some former senior leaders here at the Pentagon that have served here in Afghanistan,” she said, and asked if there was something they would have done differently.
“We had a choice,” she said about Biden’s choice to keep Bagram airport under American control, or his hope that Afghan forces would have held the former American base. “You know, there were pros and cons to both.”
The U.S. military “are working under a very difficult, almost impossible timeline, particularly knowing that there is an ISIS threat. Now, remember… what isn’t explained all the time is that ISIS hates the Taliban as much as they hate us,” she added.
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“So, ISIS would love to embarrass the Taliban right now. They would love to fire on the airport so that Americans had to withdrawal under fire. There are a lot of different factors there. It is an extremely dangerous environment,” Griffin explained.
The military knew the dangers going into the evacuation, but Griffin said the White House wasn’t giving them the support that is normally expected.
“The blithe manner in which the president seems to have given the orders to withdrawal … it boggles the mind,” she said. “This was all known.”
Biden declared Tuesday he is sticking to his Aug. 31 deadline for completing a risky airlift of Americans, endangered Afghan allies, and others seeking to escape Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The decision defies allied leaders who want to give the evacuation more time and opens Biden to criticism that he caved to Taliban deadline demands.
“Every day we’re on the ground is another day that we know ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both us and allied forces and innocent civilians,” Biden said at the White House, referring to the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate, which is known for staging suicide attacks on civilians.
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He said the Taliban are cooperating and security is holding despite a number of violent incidents. “But it’s a tenuous situation,” he said, adding, “We run a serious risk of it breaking down as time goes on.”
The United States in recent days has ramped up its airlift amid new reports of rights abuses that fuel concern about the fate of thousands of people who fear retribution from the Taliban and are trying to flee the country. The Pentagon said 21,600 people had been evacuated in the 24 hours that ended Tuesday morning, and Biden said an additional 12,000 had been flown out in the 12 hours that followed. Those include flights operated by the U.S. military as well as other charter flights.
The Taliban, who have wrested control of the country back nearly 20 years after being ousted in a U.S.-led invasion after the 9/11 attacks, insist the airlift must end on Aug. 31. Any decision by Biden to stay longer could reignite a war between the militants and the approximately 5,800 American troops who are executing the airlift at Kabul airport.
Some Republicans bristled Tuesday at the U.S. seeming to comply with a Taliban edict. “We need to have the top priority to tell the Taliban that we’re going to get all of our people out, regardless of what timeline was initially set,” said Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
Biden decided in April that he was ending the U.S. war, which began in October 2001. Former President Donald Trump had earlier agreed in negotiations with the Taliban to end the war in May.
However, Biden waited until the Taliban had swept to power this month, following the collapse of the U.S.-backed government and its army, to begin executing an airlift.
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“I know there were heated discussions in the situation room about the humanitarian catastrophe that would follow going to zero,” Griffin said. “But once the president took that decision, the military had to do the best they could to ensure that there were no troop casualties … and to get as many people out as they can.”
“Unfortunately, time is running out.”
The Horn editorial team and The Associated Press contributed to this article