Armed Services Commission
“To my knowledge, no one has told me,” said the US president on August 19 on ABC.
Senior US generals said Tuesday that they advised keeping troops in Afghanistan to strengthen the Afghan government and expressed concern that the Taliban remain linked to the jihadist network Al Qaeda.
The general Mark Milley, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the general Kenneth McKenzie, which heads the United States Central Command that encompasses Afghanistan, said they had personally recommended keep about 2,500 American troops in Afghanistan.
President Joe Biden chose not to follow this advice, which he said in August that he had never received. “As far as I know, no one has told me”said the president on August 19 on ABC, recalls Afp.
In April, the US president ordered the complete withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan before September 11, following an agreement reached with the Taliban by his predecessor in the White House, Donald Trump.
Milley, McKenzie and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin testified Tuesday before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on ending the deployment of US troops from Afghanistan.
Asked whether the withdrawal and the chaotic evacuation of civilians from Kabul had damaged the image of the United States, Milley said that allies and adversaries were reviewing “intensively” the situation. Washington credibility.
“I think ‘hurt’ is a word that could be used,” he pointed out.
Milley stressed that the Taliban “were and continue to be a terrorist organization and that they have not yet severed ties with Al Qaeda, “the network that Afghanistan used as a base for planning the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.
“It remains to be seen whether or not the Taliban can consolidate power or whether the country will fracture into a new civil war,” Milley said. “But we must continue to protect the American people from terrorist attacks emanating from Afghanistan,” he said.
“An al Qaeda network or a reconstituted Islamic State group with aspirations to attack the United States is a very real possibility,” he warned the senators, although he admitted that “it is too early to determine its capacity.”
“It took us all by surprise”
The Pentagon chief remarked that the United States “did not fully understand the depth of the corruption and poor leadership “in the Afghan armed forces.
“We helped build a state, but we couldn’t build a nation,” Austin said.
“The fact that the Afghan army, which we and our partners train, has simply vanished, in many cases without a single shot, took us all by surprise,” he said. “It would be dishonest to claim otherwise.”
The defense secretary said the United States provided the Afghan military with “equipment and aircraft and the training to use them,” but “in the end, we were unable to provide them with the will to win.”
Milley also testified about the calls he made to his Chinese counterpart, General Li Zuocheng, at the end of Trump’s presidency, assuring that they intended to “de-escalate” tensions and that the former president had no intention of attacking China.
“I know, I’m sure, that President Trump had no intention of attacking the Chinese“I say.
“De-escalate” the tension with Beijing
“My task at that time was to de-escalate. My message was consistent: keep calm and stability and de-escalate. We are not going to attack them,” he said.
The calls between Milley and Li were revealed in the book Peril (Danger), from the journalists of the Washington Post Bob Woodward y Robert Costa.
The first call was on October 30, four days before the US presidential election. And the second was on January 8, two days after Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol to avoid Biden’s certification of victory.
Some Republican lawmakers have accused Milley of exceeding his authority and have asked him to resign. On Tuesday, Milley defended his actions, saying the calls were coordinated with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and then his acting successor Christopher Miller.
According to him, intelligence information led Washington to believe that Beijing was afraid of an attack by the United States.
“These military-to-military communications at the highest levels are critical to the security of the United States to deconfigure military action, manage crises, and prevent wars between nuclear-armed great powers,” Milley explained.
“At no time did I try to change or influence the process, usurp authority or insert myself into the chain of command,” Milley said.
The aggregate: “I firmly believe in civilian control of the armed forces as an essential fundamental principle for this republic and I am committed to ensuring that the armed forces stay away from internal politics. “
After the publication of excerpts from the book on September 15, President Biden renewed his trust in General Milley.
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