Rep. Waltz slams Biden for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan while Navy veteran remains Taliban hostage

Rep. Waltz blasts Biden admin for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan while Navy veteran remains Taliban hostage

Florida Rep. Michael Waltz points out that the troop withdrawal was not conditioned on Mark Frerichs release from custody, which is fueling concerns that the U.S. could lose bargaining power to get him home.

Florida Rep. Michael Waltz slammed the Biden administration on Tuesday for giving away all “leverage” by pulling American troops from Afghanistan while Navy veteran Mark Frerichs remains a Taliban hostage. 

Waltz, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and is a Green Beret veteran of the war in Afghanistan, stressed that he’s growing more concerned about Frerichs being left behind as the U.S. moves to withdraw its military from Afghanistan by Sept. 11. 

Mark Frerichs is a contractor from Lombard, Illinois, who is believed to have been held for more than a year by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network. Frerichs, a former Navy diver, was living in Kabul for a decade working on construction projects as an engineer when he was abducted, the Washington Post reported. 

“The last American troops have pretty much gone home and the Biden administration has given away all of our leverage,” Waltz, R-Fla., told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday. 

“The thing the Taliban wanted the most, and they’ve been asking for it for 20 years, is for American troops to leave.” 

Waltz then noted that the troop withdrawal was not conditioned on Frerichs’ release from custody, which is fueling concerns that the U.S. could lose bargaining power to get him home once its military presence is removed.

“You would have thought before President Biden just yanked everyone out, and we’re seeing the collapse that’s happening now in Afghanistan as we speak, they at least could have gotten one American in exchange,” Waltz stressed. 

Taliban forces are reportedly gaining momentum, pushing the Afghanistan government’s forces out of several districts and taking control of various weapons and military vehicles in the process, while the U.S. withdraws from the country.

U.S. Central Command announced last month that the drawdown is more than 90% complete and handed over seven facilities to the Afghan military. 

The deterioration of the situation on the ground and the resurgence of the Taliban comes nearly 20 years after the U.S. and international forces entered Afghanistan to oust the Taliban, which had harbored Usama bin Laden. 

“We place a high priority on Mark Frerichs’ safety and will not stop working until he is safely returned to his family,” the statement continued. 

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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