Milley says he won’t resign over Biden refusing advice on keeping troops in Afghanistan

Washington, Sep 29 : Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate panel on Tuesday that he will not resign his post out of protest over President Joe Biden refusing his advice to keep 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan.

“Resigning is a really serious thing. It’s a political act, if I’m resigning in protest,” Milley said. “My job is to provide advice. My statutory responsibility is to provide legal advice or best military advice to the president. And that’s my legal requirement. That’s what the law is. The president doesn’t have to agree with that advice.

“It would be an incredible act of political defiance for a commissioned officer to just resign because my advice is not taken,” he added, Fox News reported.

Milley said earlier in the hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee that he recommended the US keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan prior to the chaotic military withdrawal last month, appearing to contradict Biden’s statements that he couldn’t “recall” any such recommendation.

On Tuesday, Gen. McKenzie and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, confirmed that President Biden had ignored their advice on maintaining a peacekeeping force of 2,500 troops in Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from overrunning the country.

“I won’t share my personal recommendation to the president, but I will give you my honest opinion,” McKenzie said to Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “And my honest opinion and view shaped my recommendation. I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, and I also recommended earlier in the fall of 2020 that we maintain 4,500 at that time. Those are my personal views. I also [had] a view that the withdrawal of those forces would lead inevitably to the collapse of the Afghan military forces and eventually the Afghan government.”

Milley said, “My assessment was, back in the fall of ’20, and it remained consistent throughout, that we should keep a steady state of 2,500 [troops].”

The Generals’ testimonies contradict a claim made by President Biden in an August interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.

“Your top military advisers warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops,” Stephanopoulos said at the time.

“No, they didn’t! It was split,” Biden claimed. “That wasn’t true. That wasn’t true.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday defended pulling U.S. troops out of Bagram Air Base and handing it back to the Afghan government just weeks before it was overtaken by the Taliban.

“Retaining Bagram would have required putting as many as 5,000 U.S. troops in harm’s way just to operate and defend it,” Austin said in a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Austin said keeping a U.S. military presence at Bagram, “even for counterterrorism purposes,” would have meant staying at war in Afghanistan, which President Biden “made clear” was not an option.”

Austin, Milley, and McKenzie were central figures during the final days of the nearly 20-year US military presence in Afghanistan, ending in an evacuation effort that led many lawmakers to question the military and Biden administration’s exit strategy.

It was their first public testimony since the U.S. completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan. The officials testified on Tuesday in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee and then on Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee.

Some in Congress have accused Milley of disloyalty for what the book “Peril,” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, reported as assurances to a Chinese general that the U.S. had no plan to attack China, and that if it did, Milley would warn him in advance.


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