United States Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley admitted Tuesday that the withdrawal from Afghanistan was a “strategic failure”, although he said that situation was achieved not after twenty days of administration, but rather through “the effects.” of twenty years of “war.
“There were four presidents, twenty commanders, seven or eight chiefs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dozens of defense ministers (…),” Milley said when speaking to the Senate Armed Forces Committee.
“The results of such a war, of a strategic failure – the enemy is in charge in Kabul, there is no other way to describe it – are the result of an accumulation of events over twenty years, not over 20 days, of learning strategic, operational and tactical lessons “he explained.
The general also wanted to make it clear that as early as late 2020 he advised both the Donald Trump administration and the current administration of President Joe Biden that conducting an “accelerated withdrawal” could “jeopardize” the achievements in Afghanistan, as well as the ” Damaging “the global credibility of the United States and the” collapse of the Afghan government “.
Milley appeared Tuesday along with the rest of the Pentagon’s top hierarchical officials, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and US Central Command General Frank McKenzie, to answer questions from Congress for the first time after the chaotic and hasty departure from Afghanistan following the arrival of the US Congress to answer Taliban in August.
Austin also admitted that the trigger “was not perfect,” but asked that it be kept in mind that it was “the largest airlift in United States history, carried out in 17 days.”
“We got so many people out of Kabul so quickly that we ran into capacity and management problems at other bases outside of Afghanistan,” said Austin, who nonetheless insisted that the troops were “ready” and that it was “a strategic failure.” is also a “logistical success”.
The Secretary of Defense has noted that while the Pentagon estimated that between 70,000 and 80,000 people could have been evacuated from Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul at the time, the Army eventually removed more than 124,000 people from the country, about 7,000 a day, in planes that could sometimes take off “every 45 minutes”.
Austin recalled that the Afghan government’s collapse “surprised everyone” that “it would be dishonest to say otherwise” and former President Ashraf Ghani, as well as the “deep corruption” and “bad conduct” of the rest of the high authorities what happened.
“Unpleasant truths,” he said, which did not anticipate the “snowball effect” that brought with it the pacts the Taliban made with local leaders during the Doha Accords, which Austin said “had a demoralizing effect on the soldiers “. “.
“We helped build a state, but we couldn’t forge a nation,” said the Pentagon chief, who for his part complained that the Afghan troops “disappeared” after their training without firing a single shot.
Some points of criticism were also directed at General Milley, who was “deeply” surprised by the rapid fall of the Afghan armed forces, since the information on the ground predicted resistance in Kabul by the spring of 2022. Intelligence service analysis that would foresee the collapse of government and army in eleven days ” , he said.
“A lot of units ended up fighting, but the vast majority laid down their arms and disappeared in a very, very short time. I think that has to do with will and leadership,” said Milley.
For his part, Commander McKenzie once again took full responsibility for the attack that killed 11 innocent civilians, including seven children, when a US Army drone bombed a residential complex in Kabul he believed he was a member of in late August the Khorasan Province of the Islamic State (ISKP).
“The matter is under investigation, but what I can tell you and to reiterate some of the things I said earlier, I am responsible for it. It happened in my area of responsibility, so I am the officer in charge of the strike.” attack, ”McKenzie insisted.
“I was under no pressure and no one was under my chain of command. we were wrong, “he admitted.
McKenzie has also been cautious about ruling out the possibility of the Taliban allowing Islamic State, al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations to use Afghan territory as a base of operations, and has indicated that “it remains to be seen” in that regard.