SALT LAKE CITY — Hours after two attacks near the Kabul airport in Afghanistan killed 73 people Thursday, some of Utah's elected leaders shared their thoughts and support for those wounded or lost in the explosions.
The Pentagon reports 13 U.S. Marines and a Navy medic were killed in the attacks, along with 60 Afghans.
There was a large crowed at the Marshall White Center in Ogden at Rep. Blake Moore’s (Rep.) town hall meeting Thursday. The attacks in Afghanistan were top of mind for the former State Department foreign service officer.
“To see that happen and to lose military servicemen, it’s heartbreaking today. The game has changed at this point,” Rep Moore said.
Rep. Moore says the US should have acted on intelligence pointing to severe problems if the US military pulled out of Afghanistan. He said there never should have been a hard deadline.
“To do it in a way that wasn’t strategic and completely telegraphed to the Taliban about what we were going to do was a major, major military and diplomatic [mistake],” said Rep. Moore.
“I believe we were wrong, both President Trump and President Biden to take our troops out of Afghanistan,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (Rep.).
Sen. Romney also criticizes the US pullout from Afghanistan Thursday, while touring UDOT’s traffic operations center and pushing his infrastructure bill.
“It’s been a tragedy and in many respects we’ve lost credibility around the world,” he said.
As President Biden vows revenge on the attackers, Romney wants the US’s focus to stay on getting Americans and Afghan refugees out of the country first and then get justice.
“We have the patience to make sure that those people who killed American service men and women pay dearly for the lives,” Sen Romney said.
Horrific terrorist attacks outside Kabul airport. My heart breaks for the U.S. servicemembers wounded in the explosion and the innocent Afghan lives lost. I am inspired by the strength and compassion of our troops and pray for their safety.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) August 26, 2021
Utah's other Senate member, Sen. Mike Lee (Rep.), also expressed his support of U.S. military personnel, but focused his words to attack the Biden administration, saying "This botched withdrawal and its effects are the worst kind of tragedy, one that was avoidable."
Lee shared his thoughts in a statement, "My prayers are with those killed and wounded in action today, their families, and their teammates still on the ground."
"Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.” "It is our duty to protect those Americans still in Afghanistan.. and those who have helped us in this fight against evil," Lee said.
1/ God bless our troops, especially those in harms way in Afghanistan. This botched withdrawal and its effects are the worst kind of tragedy, one that was avoidable. Nevertheless our men and women in uniform do their duty.— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) August 26, 2021
Rep. Chris Stewart (Rep.) took a similar tact as Lee by seemingly placing the blame on the president, as well as supporting those killed and wounded.
"My prayers are with our troops, our citizens, and the Afghans who were killed or injured in today’s apparent terrorist attack. And my heart breaks for those who remain stranded behind enemy lines in this time of violence and chaos," wrote Stewart. "There is no excuse for the incompetence displayed by the Biden Administration throughout this disastrous withdrawal."
There is no excuse for the incompetence displayed by the Biden Administration throughout this disastrous withdrawal.— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) August 26, 2021
We need to secure the airport, maintain a perimeter, and safely evacuate all Americans and our allies – and we need to do so by any means necessary.
Congressman Burgess Owens (Rep.) asked for everyone affected by today's events to be in the minds of all Utahns.
"Please join me in praying for the safety of our service members, American citizens, and the Afghan people on the ground in Kabul today," Owens tweeted.
Gov. Spencer Cox issued a statement that shared the thoughts of him and his wife.
Rep. Blake Moore (Rep.) tweeted out his condolences late Thursday, saying "As the situation in Afghanistan becomes more and more heartbreaking, my team and I send prayers to our citizens, troops, and Afghan allies impacted by today’s attacks. Please know our team remains steadfast in supporting however we can."
The attacks came as the U.S. attempts to evacuate approximately 1,500 Americans from Afghanistan. President Biden said he would adhere to an Aug. 31 deadline to remove all U.S. personnel.