General Milley: Al Qaeda can rebuild in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Two top US generals have said they have recommended keeping 2,500 troops in Afghanistan before a full US withdrawal in August.
The testimony of General Mark Milley and General Frank McKenzie in Congress appears to contradict President Joe Biden, who said he did not remember any such advice.
The hearing comes just weeks after chaos erupted at Kabul airport as foreign powers tried to repatriate their citizens and thousands of desperate Afghans pleaded for help.
A suicide bomber killed 182 people during a return operation. Thirteen U.S. service personnel and at least 169 Afghans were killed at the airport gate on August 26.
Keeping the army on the ground
General McKenzie, who oversees the withdrawal from Afghanistan as head of US Central Command, told Republican senators that he had recommended a small force of 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
On August 19, an ABC reporter found this contradictory to President Joe Biden’s claim that he did not remember anyone giving him such advice.
General Milley said he agreed with the recommendation, but when asked if Alaska Republican Dean Sullivan was “misrepresented” by Mr Biden, he declined to comment directly.
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White House spokeswoman Jane Sackie later addressed the issue.
He said the president appreciated the clear advice of the joint chiefs and the army. “That doesn’t mean he always agrees.”
“If troops remain in the country after the August deadline, the United States will now fight the Taliban,” he said.
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Generals downplay Biden’s words
Analysis by Anthony Zurcher (North America Reporter)
Mark Millie, Lloyd Austin and Kenneth McKenzie may be testifying before Congress, but Biden’s own words hurt the president the most on Tuesday.
Republicans have lashed out at the president for recent statements that the generals contradicted, either explicitly or indirectly.
In an August interview, Biden insisted that no general there was urging him to keep some US troops in Afghanistan to prevent a Taliban takeover. Both General Milli and General McKenzie said they thought the troops were needed, and on one occasion, the latter said he had told the president.
Republican senators also questioned why Mr. Biden promised to keep the military until all American citizens were evacuated, provided the Americans were still in Afghanistan a few weeks after the final withdrawal.
Finally, the two generals insisted that al-Qaeda was still present in Afghanistan – in direct conflict with Biden’s earlier statement that the terrorist organization had been disbanded.
All that gave Republicans the ammunition to accuse the president of lying to the American people.
Mr Biden did not need to be reassured. He could only say that he was considering the advice of the army but insisted on his withdrawal. However, like many politicians before him, he talked about getting in trouble.
Tuesday’s hearing began with Mr. Austin’s testimony, after which General Milli said it would now be difficult to protect Americans from terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.
“The Taliban was and still is a terrorist organization and it has not yet severed ties with al-Qaeda,” he said.
“A reorganized al-Qaeda or ISIS [Islamic State group] with the desire to attack the United States is a very real possibility, and these conditions will present themselves in the next 12-36 months to include activity in unregulated places.” Can. “
Thousands of Afghans tried to flee Kabul airport, which was guarded by US troops.
General Milli said he estimated at the end of 2020 that a rapid withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan could lead to the overthrow of the government.
But he and Mr. Austin both testified that the pace of destruction overtook the U.S. military’s off-guard.
“We helped build a state, but we couldn’t build a nation,” Mr Austin said.
“The fact that we and our partners trained the Afghan army, in many cases without firing a shot, surprised us all.”
US troops entered Afghanistan for the first time in late 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks. When they left, the United States spent about 98 98,985 billion (24,244bn) and deployed tens of thousands of troops, up from 110,000 in 2011.
In the weeks between the fall of Kabul and the August 31 withdrawal deadline, the United States withdrew the remaining 4,000 troops. It is also carrying about 50,000 Afghan refugees who were evacuated from Kabul.
In the days after the Taliban took over, 20 people were killed in a crowd at the airport.
Gen Mark Milley
Biden’s top military adviser – chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (committee of eight top military officials)
He is not part of the chain of command with the military and does not command US forces.
However, he is the link between the White House and the Pentagon.
He was a four-star officer and Army Chief of Staff before being appointed to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff in October 2019.
We are not going to attack China
It was recently revealed that General Milli had a telephone conversation with the Chinese military following concerns about then-President Donald Trump.
The phone calls were revealed in a book by journalist Bob Woodward, who also said that General Milli had told his staff that if Mr. Trump ordered a nuclear attack, he would have to confirm it beforehand.
Top Republican Senator Marco Rubio called it a “betrayal.”
But General Milli told the hearing that the calls were connected to then-Secretary of Defense Mark Asper and his successor, Christopher Miller.
Mr Al-Falahi insisted that despite statements from the Taliban that women were not allowed to work “for a while”, women were returning to his bank.