Photo: U.S. Secretary of Defense: Lisa Ferdinando

Mark Milley: I Proposed to Maintain 2,500 US Troops in Afghanistan, but it was Rejected

VANCOUVER, CANADA – General Mark Milley, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Armed Forces, stated that he had proposed to maintain 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, but it was not accepted.

Milley made these remarks on Tuesday, March 19, during his testimony at a hearing of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives regarding the withdrawal of the Biden administration from Afghanistan.

“At that time, my analysis, based on my assessment and the recommendations of the commanders to include General MacKenzie, was that we needed to maintain a minimum force of 2500 troops on the ground, mostly special forces, with allied troops and contractors in order to sustain the Afghan National Security Forces and its government until the Department divisions of the Doha Agreement were met.”

He said, “I had made this proposal, but to say who did not accept my proposal is beyond my legal competence.”

Mike Waltz, the Republican representative of Florida, who was at the committee hearing, said, “the more I listen to this hearing, the more infuriated I get.”

He mentioned that certain remarks made by the US president during the evacuation process have troubled the families of veterans. Specifically, Biden stated in one instance that the generals never recommended maintaining 2,500 troops at the Bagram airbase.

But Milley confirms he advised Biden to maintain a stay behind force.

Milley stated that he had anticipated the collapse of the Afghan government.

“For the support my view at the time, it was only a matter of when, not if, the Afghan government would collapse and the Taliban would take control.”

Milley emphasized, “We failed to create a government, and this is a strategic failure for us.”

On the other hand, General Frank McKenzie, the former commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM), also stated in the same hearing that the collapse of the Afghan government disrupted withdrawal plans.

According to him, based on the previous plan, some troops remained to safeguard the embassy and ensure the safe evacuation of American citizens, but the collapse of the Afghan government nullified their previous plans.

“President Donald Trump selected a branch of the plan that maintained 2500 U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan. On April 11, 2021, I received orders from president Biden due to execute a full military withdrawal by  September 11, 2021. That date was subsequently modified to the end of august. This decision did not include the withdrawal of our embassy, our citizens, and at risk Afghans.”

He added that the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and the killing of American soldiers at Kabul airport were not due to incorrect military policy, but rather from Washington.

This comes as despite criticism from many former and current US officials regarding the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden has repeatedly defended his decision in this regard.