Milley, Austin testify for a House panel on Afghanistan
Top military officials in the Biden administration faced another congressional panel Wednesday after a day of heated hearings in the Senate answering lawmakers’ questions about the chaotic end of the war in Afghanistan in which they acknowledged that President His advice to Biden shouldn’t be held back by everyone. Soldiers from Afghanistan had gone unheard.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark A. Milley, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Chief of the Army Staff, General Kenneth F. McKenzie appeared before the House Armed Services Committee to testify with Jr. Middle Command. He is expected to face similar questions about discussions he had with the president before a chaotic evacuation last month in which a suicide bombing killed 13 US service members and a US drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians. Had gone.
During a sometimes acrimonious Senate hearing on Tuesday, General Milley said military leaders had given their advice to Biden in the lead-up to the president’s withdrawal of the April decision. Those views, the general said, had not changed since November, when he recommended that Trump keep American troops in Afghanistan.
But, the general said, “decision makers are not required in any way, shape or form to follow that advice.”
General Milley defended his actions in the final months of the Trump administration, insisting that his Chinese counterpart be called and a meeting in which he told generals to alert him if the president tried to launch a nuclear weapon. were part of their duties. Top military officer of the country.
Many Republican senators enlisted General Milley both for his actions described in the book “Peril” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of The Washington Post, and for getting the writers to talk about those works.
General Milley said he was instructed by then-Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper to call his Chinese counterpart on October 30 because “there was intelligence that led us to believe the Chinese were concerned about an attack on him by the United States.” ” He said other senior US officials, including the then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, were aware of the call.
“I know, I’m sure President Trump did not intend to attack the Chinese, and it was my responsibility to make the Chinese aware of that intention,” he said. “My job at that time was to de-escalate. My message was again consistent: stay calm, steady and de-escalate.”
Senators pressed three men on why the Pentagon failed to predict the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and Afghan military, why the United States did not begin to evacuate Americans and vulnerable Afghans quickly, and why the Pentagon was now helping the remaining Americans. What was he doing to do and the Afghans who want to leave the country.
Mr Austin, a retired four-star army general who served in Afghanistan, acknowledged that the collapse of the Afghan army in the final weeks of the war – in many cases without being shot down by the Taliban – took top commanders by surprise.
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“We failed to fully understand that there was only so much for – and for what – many Afghan armies would fight,” Mr Austin said.
Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts asked whether leaving troops in Afghanistan for another year would make a difference. Mr. Austin said no.
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