Lloyd Austin reacts with awkward silence when asked if he has regrets about Afghanistan withdrawal

Lloyd Austin gives awkward silence when asked about Afghanistan

Fox News’ Bret Baier asks the defense secretary about diplomatic security issues at the Reagan National Defense Forum

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was silent for several seconds before telling Fox News anchor Bret Baier on Saturday what his regrets are about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“Do you have any regrets about the Afghan withdrawal?” Baier asked Austin during a keynote discussion at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.

After a silence that lingered for nearly 10 seconds, Austin replied, “Bret, I regret the fact that we lost 13 of our finest at Abbey Gate. I regret that we lost 10 civilians in an errant strike.

“Having said that, Bret, I want to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the fact that our American forces, in 17 days, evacuated 124,000 people from Afghanistan,” Austin continued.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin pauses while speaking during a media briefing at the Pentagon, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) 
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Reagan Forum included remarks by foreign policy experts and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle on Biden’s break from the Trump administration’s “America First” strategy — which some officials argue has weakened the standing of the U.S. on the world stage.

Top experts warned at the Reagan Forum that the standing of the U.S. as the “partner of choice” among global allies has waned since the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

vacuees wait to board a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 23. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Isaiah Campbell)

In August, the Biden administration took major flak at home and abroad when the Taliban swiftly took over Kabul as the U.S. concluded its two-decade presence in the country.

The Reagan Forum comes as China and Russia continue to build up aggressive defenses not seen since World War II.

Experts are concerned that a global power shift could be at play if other world leaders are skeptical about the reliability of the U.S. to act as a strong partner.

Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.

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