Bennet, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Create Independent Commission to Study Afghanistan War

Legislation Will Help Ensure Our Nation Learns the Right Lessons

Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, along with U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), introduced the Afghanistan War Study Commission Act to establish a nonpartisan, independent commission to examine the war in Afghanistan, including the political and strategic decisions that transformed a focused military mission into a vast, nation-building campaign that became the longest war in our nation’s history. 

The goal of this commission is to produce actionable recommendations designed to guide the development of real reforms in order to ensure that our nation not only learns the right lessons from our 20 years in Afghanistan, but ensures the same mistakes are never made again. 

“The end of this war demands our responsibility to learn from it. We must undertake a sober and thorough examination of the serial misjudgments across multiple administrations that brought us to this point. After two decades of war and two trillion dollars, that is the least we owe every American — and especially the men and women who served bravely on its front lines,” said Bennet.

“The War in Afghanistan was shaped by four different administrations and 11 different Congresses—no party should be looking to score cheap, partisan political points off a decades-long nation-building failure that was bipartisan in the making,” said Duckworth.  “Congress owes the thousands of American servicemembers who sacrificed in Afghanistan a serious, honest and long-term effort devoted to bringing accountability and transparency, which is why I’m introducing legislation to create an independent, nonpartisan commission aimed at ensuring we learn from mistakes made and implement reforms to ensure those mistakes are not repeated.”

Specifically, the Afghanistan War Study Commission Act would establish an independent commission to:

  • Examine all U.S. combat operations, irregular warfare operations, intelligence actions, diplomatic activities and the interagency decision-making and coordinating processes used in the War in Afghanistan. The commission would span the entirety of the War—from the September 11, 2001, attacks until the conclusion of the military evacuation on August 30, 2021;
  • Study the use of authorities for conducting the Afghanistan War, the effectiveness of Congressional oversight efforts and the strategic decisions made throughout the course of the war;
  • Investigate actions by all U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of State and the Intelligence Community. It would also examine the U.S. efforts with our allies and partners;
  • Ensure its members are nonpartisan and chosen in equal numbers by the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction for Armed Services, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs, with one additional member from the Administration. The Commissioners would be experienced policy professionals from all corners of the federal government with no direct history of involvement in operational or strategic decision-making in the Afghanistan War to ensure objectivity;
  • Provide lessons learned and actionable recommendations in a public and unclassified report, with a classified annex for Intelligence Community matters. The report would allow the United States to learn from our experience in Afghanistan and ensure those mistakes are never repeated. 

Together, the original co-sponsors sit on key committees of jurisdiction that have conducted oversight of the war, including U.S. the Senate Armed Services Committee, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. 

The bill text is available HERE