General Milley, Secretary Austin Testify Before Congress

Evacuation from Kabul called “a logistical success, but a strategic failure.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General  Mark Milley testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. Although Senate rules require witness testimonies be furnished to them at least 48 hours in advance of a hearing, neither man provided anything until late Monday night, giving senators very little time to review. The senators grilled the two top defense officials about the withdrawal from Afghanistan last month.

General Milley said he and other generals had advised President Biden to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan prior to the withdrawal. But, he said, the final decision on full withdrawal was that of the commander in chief, President Biden. On questioning, General Milley said the withdrawal from Kabul was a logistical success but a tragic failure.

Defense Secretary Austin said there are “fewer than 100” American citizens still trying to evacuate from Afghanistan. “We got out 21 American citizens today, along with their family members, and we continue to work,” he said, adding that the numbers “fluctuate daily.” It was suggested to him that there could be as many as 4,000 Americans still in Afghanistan. Secretary Austin said, “I personally don’t believe that… but I cannot confirm or deny that.”

Acknowledging that some legislators questioned the decision to hand over control of Bagram Air Base, the largest U.S. military base in that country, in early July, Secretary Austin said that keeping it open would essentially have meant the war would be extended, by virtue of the number of troops it would require to maintain it. 

General Milley also discussed the strategic military lessons that needed to be learned by the U.S. Afghan security forces he said were “too dependent on technology, too dependent on our capabilities, we didn’t take in the cultural aspects perhaps as much as we should have.” Later, he added that a lesson from both Vietnam and Afghanistan was “don’t Americanize the war.” 

Representatives in the House will hear from Secretary Austin, General Milley, and General Kenneth McKenzie, Commander of CENTCOM, on Wednesday.

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For the defense officials as they answer to House legislators.
  • For wisdom for the president’s administration as they deal with the repercussions of the manner the U.S. military left Afghanistan.
  • For the numbers of Americans who remain in Afghanistan but want to leave that country.

Sources: CBS News, Fox News, The Hill


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