President Biden and his senior military leaders appear to be from different worlds. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley, and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
During their testimonies, these military leaders were contradicting a few of their commander in chief’s statements about his contentious withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
There Seems to be No Solid Story Coming Out
Biden denied the claim his senior commanders pushed him to leave at least 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan. This denial came in an address, four days after Kabul collapsed. “No. No one mentioned that to me that I can remember,” Biden claimed.
Josh Hawley tells General Milley and Defense Secretary Austin that they should resign to their faces. pic.twitter.com/n7W6qmBTxV
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) September 28, 2021
Top military officers testified under oath on Tuesday that top Army commanders advised him to do so and Biden acknowledged them. While both Gens. Milley and McKenzie refused to elaborate their personal discussions, Milley stated he’d been recommending the US keep somewhere around 2,500 and 3,500 troops in Afghanistan.
Apparently, this went on since the fall of 2020 under then-President Trump. Milley also said his position “stayed constant throughout.” Gen. McKenzie, meanwhile, stated the top US commander in Afghanistan (Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller) supported his viewpoint.
McKenzie then declared he was “there” when Miller’s viewpoint was addressed to Biden. “I am convinced the president received all of the proposals and gave them careful consideration,” he said.
Despite describing the president as “an honest and frank man,” Biden’s Defense Secretary Austin refuted Biden’s allegation. “Their advice was certainly heard by the president and taken into consideration by the president,” he said.
Psaki Struggled to Spin This One
Jen Psaki, the press secretary, tried to square a circle in reaction to the evidence. She claimed Biden’s military experts were “divided” about whether the US should continue a military involvement there during a post-hearing news conference.
Psaki wouldn’t identify who persuaded Biden to keep a lingering presence on the ground. The advice on force numbers was just one of the numerous topics where Biden’s top military brass appeared to dispute his assertions.
While Biden praised the departure of 124,000 Americans and Afghans as an “amazing achievement,” Milley described it as a “logistical triumph, but a strategic disaster.”
Last month, Joe Biden claimed that no military leader advised him to leave a small troop presence in Afghanistan.
Today, General Milley and General McKenzie both confirmed their recommendation that 2,500 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan.
Which is it? pic.twitter.com/3Tnw1a6V4q
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) September 28, 2021
Notwithstanding $2 trillion in expenditure and 20 years of military training and nation-building, Milley claimed Biden isn’t the only leader to blame for the failure of what detractors call the “forever war.”
“There’s no other way to define results in a war like this – a tactical defeat where the adversary is in power in Kabul,” Milley added. “That result is the combined impact of 20 years, not 20 days,” he stressed.
Four heads of state bear some responsibility for failing to recognize that no quantity of funds (and no amount of combat training) could turn Afghanistan into Switzerland. Moreover, no quantity of funds could encourage Afghan forces to keep trying to fight an enemy with seemingly endless engagement.