Generals in the United States have stated that they recommend leaving 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
Top US generals stated Tuesday that retaining American soldiers in Afghanistan to support the Afghan government is a good idea, and that they are concerned that the Taliban has not cut connections with Al-Qaeda.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General Kenneth McKenzie, chief of US Central Command, both stated that they had personally advocated that the US keep around 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
In April, President Joe Biden issued an order to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by September 11, implementing a deal negotiated with the Taliban by outgoing President Donald Trump to end the US combat presence there.
The Senate Armed Services Committee heard from Milley, McKenzie, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Milley was questioned if the US’s credibility had been harmed by the withdrawal and chaotic retreat from Kabul.
“I believe our reputation with allies and partners around the world, as well as adversaries, is being scrutinized to see which way this will go, and I believe ‘damage’ is one word that might be used, yes,” he added.
Milley stated that the Taliban “was and continues to be a terrorist organization,” adding that they “have not broken their ties with Al-Qaeda,” who utilized Afghanistan as a base to plan the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
He added, “It remains to be seen if the Taliban can consolidate power or if the country would splinter into additional civil conflict.”
Milley added, “However, we must continue to safeguard the American people from terrorist assaults emanating from Afghanistan.”
He added that a resurrected Al Qaeda or Islamic State with desires to strike America is still a “very serious threat,” but it’s “too early to assess their competence.”
The US “did not completely appreciate the extent of corruption and weak leadership” in the Afghan armed forces, according to Austin.
“We contributed to the creation of a state, but we were unable to create a nation,” he remarked.
“It took us all by surprise when the Afghan army we and our allies trained suddenly vanished — in many cases without firing a shot,” the Pentagon chief stated. “To pretend otherwise would be dishonest.”
The US had provided the Afghan military with “equipment and aircraft, as well as the skills to operate them,” according to Austin, but “in the end, we couldn’t provide them with the resolve to win.”
Milley also testified about calls he made in the final months to his Chinese colleague. Brief News from Washington Newsday.