WASHINGTON Pentagon leaders publicly announced Tuesday that they had advised President Biden not to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan before a chaotic evacuation killed 13 US soldiers in a suicide bombing became and 10 Afghans. Civilians were killed in a US drone attack.
At a major Senate hearing on the war in Afghanistan, General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also defended his actions during the turbulent months of the Trump administration, insisting that he speak to his Chinese counterparts and a meeting at which he Telling the generals to warn him if the president tried to fire a nuclear weapon was part of his duties as the country’s chief military officer.
General Milley insisted not to overwhelm his former boss. “My loyalty to this nation, its people, and the Constitution has not changed and will never change as long as I have air to breathe,” he said. “I firmly believe that civilian control of the military is a fundamental principle of this republic, and I am committed to ensuring that the military stays away from domestic politics.”
About six hours of public testimony from senior Pentagon officials were sometimes harsh and sometimes close to political theater. Republican senators, who had previously defended President Donald Trump’s initiative to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, called for the resignation of military leaders who had carried out a Democratic president’s withdrawal orders the Trump administration.
Under repeated questioning by Republican senators, Pentagon leaders broke parts of Biden’s retreat defenses, admitting that they had recommended leaving 2,500 U.S. soldiers on the ground and warning that the Afghan government and military would be as soon as possible collapse when the United States withdraws its troops.
General Milley last month described the “fight without a fight” in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, as “a logistical success but a strategic failure,” borrowing from the words of Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of Caroline of the North Star of the hearing.
Everyone sat in it, the burly and bold General Milley, the most senior military officer in the nation, before the Senate Armed Forces Committee as the protagonist and antagonist of a narrative that changed with each senator. The other two military leaders invited to the hearing were Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and General Kenneth F. Milley, who was recently at the center of political turmoil over the revelations of various books about the Trump presidency.
General Milley said military leaders could have advised Biden before the president’s decision to step down in April. Those views, the general said, have not changed since November when he recommended Trump keep US troops in Afghanistan.
But, added the general, “the legislature is not obliged to follow this advice.”
Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton asked General Milley why he did not resign after Biden turned down his advice to keep troops in Afghanistan.
“This country does not want the generals to understand what orders we take and do or not. That is not our job,” replied the general. Then he added, “My father had no chance of resigning at Iwo Jima, and those guys over there at Abbey Gate, they have no choice but to resign,” the latter refers to the US troops stationed at Hamid Karzai International were airport in Kabul in August.
“You can’t stop, so I won’t stop,” he said. “There is no possibility. If the orders are unlawful, we are in a different location, but if the orders from a civil authority are legal, I intend to comply”.
General Milley’s testimony on Tuesday marked another chapter in the history of the Trump administration’s chaotic final days, with government officials concerned about the actions Trump could accept. Austin and Generals Milley and McKenzie will testify before the House Armed Services Committee.
Several Republican Senators have indicted General Milley both for his acts described in the Washington Post book “Danger” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, and for speaking about those acts with the perpetrators.
General Milley said Mark T.Esper, then-Secretary of Defense, to call his Chinese counterpart on October 30 because there was “information that led us to believe the Chinese were concerned by an attack on China. The United States added that other senior US officials, including then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, knew about the calls.
“I know, I am sure that President Trump had no intention of attacking the Chinese and it was my direct responsibility as secretary to convey that intention to the Chinese,” he said. “Back then, it was my job to reduce the increase. My message was once again consistent: keep calm, calm down and relax. We will not attack you.”
In an unintentional and amusing exchange with Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, General Milley admitted speaking to several authors who recently wrote books about the final months of Trump’s presidency. All books present the General’s actions to control Mr. Trump in a favorable light.
“Woodward yes, Costa no,” replied General Milley when asked if he was talking to Mr.Woodward and Mr. Costa about their book.
The general said he hadn’t read any of the books. Blackburn asked him to read them and tell him if they correctly portrayed his actions.
General Milley called California spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi two days after the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. Pelosi is “crazy”.
Speaking to the Senate Panel, General Milley said, “On January 8, the House Speaker Pelosi called me to inquire about the President’s ability to shoot nuclear weapons, and Ella was concerned and made several personal pointers that characterizing the President of the United States
Later that afternoon he said he had asked the generals involved in the process to “renew these procedures.” Democrats such as Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts asked if they like the troops in Afghanistan for another year would make a difference. Austin and Milley told Senators No.
Senators insisted on the three men why the Pentagon did not predict the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and army because the United States had not started evacuating Americans and vulnerable Afghans sooner, and what the Pentagon is now doing to help evacuate remaining Americans and Afghans who wish to leave the country.
Mr. Austin, a retired four-star Army general who served in Afghanistan, admitted that the collapse of the Afghan army in the final weeks of the war came as a surprise to senior commanders in many cases without the dismissal of the Taliban.
“We have to bear in mind some uncomfortable truths: that we did not fully understand the depth of corruption and bad leadership in their ranks, that we did not understand the deleterious effects of the frequent and inexplicable rotations of the president that we have had. ” not foreseen. The snowball effect caused by the agreements Taliban commanders made with local leaders, “Austin said, referring to Ashraf Ghani, the former president of Afghanistan, who left the country when the Taliban took control of all of that not many things that many Afghan forces would fight for,”Austin said. Austin defended the Biden administration’s decisions to close the sprawling Bagram Air Base, the main military center in Afghanistan, in early July and to allocate resources to defend Kabul International Airport, the country’s main entry, and exit that the Pentagon misjudged the combat readiness of the Afghan army.
“To keep Bagram it would have taken up to 5,000 US soldiers in distress to operate and defend it,” Austin said. And that would have done little for the mission entrusted to us to protect and defend the embassy some 50 kilometers away. “American troops have left the country “We could get to this point, but I still don’t have that level of confidence.”
Mr. Biden promised to prevent al-Qaeda and the Islamic State from rebuilding themselves and the Americans or attack the United States. But General McKenzie’s response underscored how difficult this task will be and was a bit more pessimistic than the assessments of other senior Pentagon officials at the hearing.
General Milley said that “a reenactment of Al Qaeda or ISIS with the aspiration to attack the United States is a very real possibility”. He added: “And these conditions, to include activity in ungoverned spaces, could arise over the next 12 to 36 months.”