In the wake of China’s calls, the Pentagon defends Milley, saying he has “full trust and confidence.”
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says he has “full trust and confidence” in Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, who has come under fire for calls he made with his Chinese counterpart and a meeting he held with Pentagon leaders to discuss nuclear weapons protocols during the Trump administration.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday that he couldn’t comment on the details of calls or discussions occurred during the previous administration, but that the Pentagon hasn’t found anything troubling in the allegations from the upcoming book Peril.
Milley was appointed as the highest military officer in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump. Since President Joe Biden assumed office in January, he has stayed in the position.
“I’m not arguing with the accuracy of what’s in the book,” Kirby said, “but it’s very reasonable for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the senior military adviser to both the secretary of defense and the president, to want to see those protocols reviewed.” “I find nothing in what I’ve read that causes me to be concerned.”
He added that the chairman frequently speaks with counterparts from various nations, particularly rivals such as China.
“[Austin] has complete faith and confidence in Chairman Milley and his work,” Kirby said.
Biden told reporters Wednesday that he has “great confidence” in Milley, and the White House sought to allay Republican concerns over his removal.
Biden’s “full faith in his leadership, patriotism, and dedication to our Constitution,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
According to the book, one call to People’s Liberation Army General Li Zuocheng took place in October, only days before Biden upset Trump in the 2020 presidential election. The other occurred in January, when Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to prevent Biden’s election from being certified.
Milley’s spokesman, Colonel Dave Butler, issued a statement on Wednesday defending the calls.
“The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs communicates regularly with Defense Chiefs across the world, including China and Russia,” Butler added. “These discussions are essential for strengthening mutual understanding. This is a condensed version of the information.