Milley Testifies on Withdrawal from Afghanistan

( – Two high-level military officials testified before Congress about the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan during President Joe Biden’s first year in office, which has been widely viewed as a disaster by Americans.

Retired Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, who once served as commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM) of the Department of Defense (DOD) Central Command, and retired Gen. Mark Milley, the former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair, both appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday, March 19.

After the withdrawal, Milley called the ordeal a “logistical success” but also a “strategic failure” by the Biden administration. He expressed regret over how American operations ended in the Middle Eastern nation. McKenzie also said the withdrawal still haunts him, especially how not everyone who wanted to get out of Afghanistan was not able to be extracted by the US after the Taliban quickly took control.

Tuesday’s testimony by the two former top military commanders wasn’t the first occasion they spoke before Congress about what happened in Afghanistan, but it was the first time they testified since retiring from their former positions during which they oversaw the pull-out.

Milley told the committee that his “personal analysis” of the plan was that a rushed withdrawal was likely to result in a “general collapse” of US-trained Afghan security forces and of the established government, leading to “a large-scale civil war” similar to “the 1990s” or a complete takeover by the Taliban. Milley, whose analysis proved correct, said President Joe Biden overruled the advice he provided and left hundreds of troops there when the withdrawal was ordered. Biden claimed he was following a plan laid out by former President Donald Trump.

Milley testified that he doesn’t “know the exact number” of US citizens who “were left behind.”

McKenzie told the panel on Tuesday that he is willing to take the blame for what happened, noting that he was “the overall commander,” and that he “alone” bears “full military responsibility” for the failed evacuation mission “at Abbey Gate,” an airport in Kabul. On Aug. 26, 2021, 13 US military personnel and 170 Afghans were killed at the airport during that mission, four days before its conclusion.

The debacle remains one of the largest stains on Biden’s presidency.

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