The top United States military officer, General Mark Milley, called the twenty-year Afghan war a strategic failure. However, on Tuesday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff acknowledged to Congress that he supported the decision to keep plenty of troops in Afghanistan to prevent a collapse of the western-backed Kabul government and the Taliban an instant seizure of the capital.
Republican leaders on the Senate Armed Services Committee pointed to the demonstration of Milley as proof that U.S. President Joe Biden deceived in a TV interview last month because he stated that the military leadership didn’t urge him to keep American troops in Afghanistan. Joint Chiefs chairman refused to say what advice he gave the president 2020 spring when he considered whether to fulfill an accord the former president Trump made with the Taliban leaders to cut the U.S. troop presence to zero by May 2021.
BREAKING: Gen. Mark Milley testifies that the Afghan war was a “strategic failure.” #MTPDaily@ckubeNBC: “People have been talking about whether the war in Afghanistan was lost. To hear the chairman of the Joint Chiefs say that in uniform today was really striking to me.” pic.twitter.com/B577vRTf2u
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) September 28, 2021
Testifying along with general Milley, U.S Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also refused to disclose his advice to the president. When the committee forced a military officer, Milley told it that it had been his personal opinion that around twenty-hundred American troops needed to protect against a fall of the Kabul government and a return to Taliban rule. Challenging American intelligence evaluations, the U.S.-backed Afghan government and its army collapsed on 15th August, allowing the Taliban insurgents to capture the capital with what Milley called some men on motorcycles, without firing a single shot.
Milley and Austin Scheduled to Appear before the House Armed Services Committee
Head of Central Command, General Fran McKenzie, was supervising American troops in Afghanistan. At the committee, he said that he shared the viewpoint of Milley to keep a residual force in Afghanistan to keep the Kabul government intact. McKenzie said that he recommended that the U.S. maintain twenty-five hundred troops in Afghanistan, and he also suggested early in the 2020 fall that the government maintain forty-five hundred at that time. Further, he clarified that those were his personal views.
The 6-hour U.S. Senate hearing marked the start of what is possible to be a detailed congressional review of the American failure in Afghanistan. Moreover, the depth and the length of the hearing stood in contrast to years of limited congressional misunderstanding of the war and the billions of American taxpayer dollars it consumed. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said that the sudden interest of the Republicans in Afghanistan is plain old politics. However, she supported the president’s decision to end the United States’ involvement there.
Milley and Austin were scheduled to testify before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday to review the war. In addition, the hearing at the time was combative, as Republican leaders sought to describe Biden as having ignored advice from military officers and mischaracterized the military options the president presented last spring and summer.
Many Republican leaders tried unsuccessfully to pull out Milley, Austin, and McKenzie into remarking on the truthfulness of the president statement to ABC News on 18th August, just three days after the Taliban seized Kabul, that no senior military commander recommended against complete removal when it was under dialog in the initial months of Biden administration.
Why didn’t Milley Resign after the rejection of his advice?
Republican Senator Tom Cotton asked general Milley why he didn’t decide to resign after rejecting his advice. Milley responded that it was his obligation to provide the commander in chief with his best advice. But the president does not have to agree with his advice. Further, he adds that he does not have to make those decisions because he is general, not the commander in chief. It would be an unbelievable act of political disobedience for a commissioned armed officer to resign just because his advice was rejected.
The Defense secretary defended the execution of the military of a desperate airlift from the Afghan capital in August and stated it would be tough but categorically possible to contain upcoming threats from Afghanistan without U.S. troops on the ground. Additionally, Milley cited a factual possibility that the Islamic State group or al-Qaida’s Afghanistan affiliate could rebuild in Afghanistan under Taliban insurgent rule and present a terrorist threat to the U.S. in the next one to three years.
Austin asked decisions made over the twenty-year course of the United States war in Afghanistan. He said that the U.S. government might put too much faith in its ability to establish a practical Afghan government in the survey. Instead, he told the Senate committee, the U.S. helped build a state, but it couldn’t forge a country.