WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a senate hearing on Tuesday, several high-ranking members of the military stated in sworn testimony that President Joe Biden ignored requests from his top generals to maintain a minimum troop presence in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal to prevent the Taliban from taking over the country, which completely contrasts what Biden said in an ABC News interview.
One month ago, while being interviewed by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Biden had said that “No one said that to me that I can recall” when asked if any of his military advisors had wanted to maintain a troop presence in Afghanistan after the botched American pullout.
However, after having been asked if they had recommended to Biden to leave some troops in Afghanistan after the President had announced his intention to fully withdraw from the country by August 31, both Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and General Frank McKenzie testified that they, in fact, had pressed him to maintain at least 2,500 troops in the region in order to prevent the Taliban from steamrolling over the Afghan army.
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“I won’t share my personal recommendation to the president, but I will give you my honest opinion and my honest opinion and view shaped my recommendation,” McKenzie said. “And I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.”
Milley echoed that recommendation, but said that he felt as many as 3,500 troops would have been needed; however, the general said that Biden chose to disregard his opinion.
“I am required, and the military commanders are required, to give our best military advice, but the decision-makers are not required to follow that advice,” he said.
Several members of the senate who were conducting the hearing expressed outrage over the testimony of Milley and McKenzie, with Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) claiming that Biden had blatantly lied to the people of the United States.
“Here’s what I’ve learned so far. Number one, the President of the United States lied to the American people about the advice that you gave to him about the military judgment that you provided. I think you’ve all testified to that effect now repeatedly,” he said. “Secondly, the State Department and maybe the White House appear to have pushed back the evacuation to such a time that it became a catastrophe, apparently against your advice, though I’d like to learn more about that.”
“And third, for some reasons we still don’t quite understand, the Pentagon failed to plan for the potential collapse of security forces or the collapse of the Afghan government, despite there being quite a lot of mourning,” Hawley added.