Top US generals advised President Joe Biden not to completely withdraw from Afghanistan. Instead, they suggested the US should leave a force of several thousand troops.
This statement, given during a Senate hearing, contradicts an earlier statement by Biden. The President said last August that no one warned him not to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
Senate Armed Services Panel Invites Top US Generals
During yesterday’s Senate Armed Services panel meeting, top US generals took the stand to answer questions from US Senators.
They included General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command. In addition, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley also answered inquiries from Senators. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also participated in the hearing.
Their testimony showed a stark contrast to statements issued by Biden regarding the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Many Americans criticized the handling of the withdrawal, which resulted in the deaths of 13 American troops.
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The abrupt evacuation of US military forces also led to the quick fall of the Afghan government. As a result, the Taliban once again assumed control over the nation.
General MacKenzie Recommended Maintaining A Small Force
General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, US Central Command chief, appeared before the Senate Armed Services last Tuesday. He said that prior to the withdrawal, he recommended maintaining a small force of 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
Earlier during the Trump presidency, he also advised that the US retain a contingent of 4,500 troops.
Asked by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) about his advice, McKenzie said he would not share his “personal recommendation” to the president. However, he did say that his personal view shaped his official recommendation.
He believed that withdrawing US troops will lead to the collapse of the Afghan military and the government.
Recommendations Contradict What Biden Said
General McKenzie also said that he told Biden about recommendations coming from General Scott Miller, commander of US Forces Afghanistan.
He said that Miller advised that the US should leave a few thousand troops on the ground. Miller detailed this plan to the Senate last week in a closed meeting.
“I was present when that discussion occurred and I am confident that the president heard all the recommendations and listened to them very thoughtfully,” McKenzie said.
The remarks directly contradicted Biden’s comments made in an August 19 interview. Talking to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Biden said “no one” that he “can recall” advised him about maintaining 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
During the interview, Stephanopoulos asked Biden if nobody told him to keep 2,500 troops stationed in Afghanistan. Biden answered: “No. No one said that to me that I can recall.”
Senators Interview General Milley
Senator Inhofe next called General Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Inhofe asked if Milley agreed with the recommendation to leave 2,500 troops. Milley said yes.
Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) asked Milley if Biden’s ABC interview was a false statement. Milley did not address the question. Instead, he said that he’s not “going to characterize a statement of the president of the United States.”
Sullivan also asked other US generals over Biden’s statement. He asked McKenzie the same question he asked Milley. He also stressed that US generals do not “have a duty to cover for the president when he’s not telling the truth”.
However, McKenzie also declined to reply directly. Instead, he said that he only gave his opinion and judgment.
Did President Joe Biden give a false statement that no one advised him to leave some US troops in Afghanistan instead of making a complete withdrawal? Will the presence of a few thousand troops make a difference during the evacuation of the rest?
Tell us what you think. Share your thoughts below.