Nearly a month after the last U.S. troops quickly left Afghanistan, senior Pentagon officials appeared before lawmakers Tuesday morning to pose sharp questions from lawmakers about the military’s role in ending the country’s longest war.
The hearing is also the first opportunity for lawmakers to question General Mark A. Millie, chairman of the Union of Chiefs of Staff, about his actions during the tumultuous months of the Trump administration.
“My loyalty to this country, its people and the constitution has not changed and as long as I am breathing it will never change,” General Millie said in her opening speech. “I firmly believe in civilian control over the army as a fundamental principle of this republic and I am committed to keeping the army away from domestic politics.
General Millie uses some of his opening words to draw attention to the turmoil of the latest revelations in the book Danger by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. He said he called his Chinese counterpart on October 30, just before the November presidential election, because “there is intelligence that leads us to believe that China is worried about a United States attack on them.” He said senior US officials, including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and later Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, were aware of the conversation.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and General Millie were also asked for advice to President Biden earlier this year not to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan. General Kenneth F. Mackenzie Jr., who is also a witness and head of the Army’s Central Command overseeing Afghanistan, gave the President the same advice.
“We can discuss and discuss key decisions, policies and moments starting in April this year, when the President announced his intention to end US involvement in this war,” Austin said in his opening remarks. “And we can discuss the decisions of the 1920s that got us there. But I know you will agree that our own employees are unspeakable. “Courage and compassion. ”
Austin defended the Biden administration’s decision in early July to close Bagram Air Force Base, Afghanistan’s main military hub, and instead protect Kabul International Airport as the main gateway to and from the country. Concentrated, he acknowledged that the Pentagon had roughly assessed the willingness of Afghan soldiers to fight.
Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee in the first two days of Congressional hearings in Afghanistan, Austin said, “To defend Bagram, 5,000 American troops must be lost just to operate and protect it.” “And that would add a little bit to the mission we were given: to defend and defend our message about 30 miles from us.”
Austin, a former four-star military general who served in Afghanistan, admits that the collapse of the Afghan army in the final weeks of the war surprised high-level commanders – in most cases without a shot.
As Mr. Austin, “We must remember some unpleasant truths: that we do not fully understand the depths of corruption and poor leadership in their highest ranks, that we have been subjected to repeated and inexplicable rotations of the President. We do not understand the harmful effects of. Gani told his commanders that we did not expect a snowball effect as the Taliban commanders were dealing with local leaders.