Gen. Milley and Gen. Austin blame the State Dept. for botched withdrawal
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According to the senior Pentagon officials, the State Department is actually to blame for the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Gen. Austin Lloyd said as much to House Armed Services Committee Wednesday. It was their second day of hearings with the committee.
“We provide an input, as I said in my opening statement, to the State Department,” Austin said. But he admitted the Ghani administration warned that “if they withdrew American citizens and SIV applicants at a pace that was too fast, it would cause a collapse of the government that we were trying to prevent.”
“We certainly would have liked to see it go faster or sooner,” Austin said. “But, again, they had a number of things to think through as well.”
Then, Milley took credit for his effective withdrawal of the troops in July. “I just want to be clear – we’re talking about two different missions,” Milley said. “The retrograde of troops . . . that is complete by mid-July, and that was done, actually, without any significant incident. And that’s the handover of 11 bases, the bringing out of a lot of equipment . . . that was done under the command of Gen. Miller.” Gen. Austin Scott Miller was the top general in Afghanistan before he transferred his authorities to Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, of US Central Command.
“Noncombatant evacuation operation is different,” Milley said, referring all withdrawals in late July and August. “Noncombat operation – that was done under conditions of great volatility, great violence, great threat.”
Ultimately, the U.S. military airlifted over 120,000 noncombatants between July and August. Their last airlift was on August 30th.
You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.
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