The anticipated showdown on Tuesday between Bidens military strategist General Mark Milley and the Senate Armed Services Committee, kicked off at precisely 9:30 a.m., with the Joint Chiefs of Staff admitting for the first time under oath, that the evacuation from Afghanistan was a strategic failure.
Those two words dispelled any doubts that everything within the White House went according to plan, as the Administration has maintained. Milley also confirmed for the first time publicly that he, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin all recommended to Biden that they retain a contingency force of at least 2,500 armed troops within Afghanistan. This was apparently rejected by Biden, contrary to his claim that everyone was in agreement in how to exit Afghanistan.
McKenzie testified. “I won’t share my personal recommendation to the president, but I will give you my honest opinion and my honest opinion and view shaped my recommendation.”
Adding, “And I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.”
McKenzie also acknowledged that he made the same recommendation to former President Trump in the fall of 2020, that they keep a contingency force of at least 4,000 men. Trump at the time had been negotiating a withdrawal strategy with the Taliban.
Later in the hearing, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia once again pressed Milley on his earlier remark concerning strategic failure.
Milley once again reiterated. “An outcome that is a strategic failure, the enemy is in charge of Kabul, there’s no way else way to describe that,” Milley said. “That outcome is the cumulative effect of 20 years not 20 days, and there are a huge amount of strategic operation and tactical lessons that need to be heard from that.”
Republican Senator Dan Sullivan also quizzed Milley regarding his assessment of the operations.
“I think one of the other senators said it very well, it was a logistical success but a strategic failure, and I think those are two different terms,” Milley responded.
.@POTUS said on Aug. 18 that none of his military advisors told him he should keep some U.S. forces in #Afghanistan. That was not true.— Sen. Dan Sullivan (@SenDanSullivan) September 28, 2021
In @SASCGOP hearing, I asked Gen. Milley, Sec. Austin & Gen. McKenzie to be straight with the American people on what they advised @POTUS. pic.twitter.com/yc6WASVdK6
The obvious question that no one seemed willing to bridge was finally asked by Republican Senator Tom Cotton, as to why General Milley had not resigned.
“Why haven’t you resigned?” Cotton asked Milley, citing Milley’s comments that President Joe Biden did not consult the general until August 25th about moving the evacuation deadline past the Taliban-enforced deadline of August 31st.
“I understand that you’re the principal military adviser, but you don’t decide, the president decides, but if all this is true, General Milley, why haven’t you resigned?” Cotton asked.
Milley seemingly surprised by Cotton’s blunt assessment responded. “Senator, as a senior military officer, resigning is a really serious thing. It’s a political act if I’m resigning in protest.”
Adding, “I’m not going to resign. If the orders were illegal, that’s different. But if they’re legal from a civilian authority, I intend to carry them out.”
.@SenTomCotton: "Why haven't you resigned?"— CSPAN (@cspan) September 28, 2021
Gen. Milley: "It would be an incredible act of political defiance for a commissioned officer to just resign because my advice is not taken." He also says, "My dad didn't get a choice to resign at Iwo Jima." pic.twitter.com/7D4w3KUR03
“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,” Milley said. “The president doesn’t have to agree with that advice. He doesn’t have to make those decisions just because we’re generals.”
Indeed he didn’t! Biden chose not to heed the advice of his senior military staff. Meanwhile hundreds, perhaps thousands of Americans along with friendly allies are still stranded in enemy territory. Thirteen young service members were brutally murdered by a suicide bomber and over $80 billion dollars of military hardware was abandoned. There is no way of knowing how many terrorist cells have made their way to the homeland. It’s unknown but likely that this could have been prevented with proper exit strategy, which now seems to have been what the Biden Administration ordered the generals to forgo.
Unfortunately, there’s no plans that Biden himself will be hauled in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee and forced to testify under oath.