New testimony from senior military officials contradicts President Joe Biden regarding troop withdrawals in Afghanistan. In congressional testimony, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and U.S. Central Command Chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said they recommended to Biden to keep about 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
In an interview for ABC, Biden said in August that nobody suggested him to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan: “No. No one said that to me that I can recall,” the president said to journalist George Stephanopoulos. However, this Tuesday, September 28, both Milley and McKenzie denied it.
“I recommended that we keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan,” McKenzie said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Milley and McKenzie appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee for a public hearing on the Biden administration’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
McKenzie said he also made a similar recommendation in the fall of 2020 under the Trump administration. At that time, he recommended that the U.S. maintain at least 4,000 troops.
“I also have a view that the withdrawal of those forces would lead inevitably to the collapse of the Afghan military forces and eventually the Afghan government,” McKenzie testified.
Milley said that while he would not share his “personal” recommendations made to the president, his assessment was “that we should keep a steady state of 2,500 and it could bounce up to 3,500, maybe, something like that, in order to move toward a negotiated solution.”
Since the withdrawal, Austin and other senior military officials have conceded that without troops on the ground in Afghanistan it will “certainly” be “more difficult” to identify and counter terrorist threats in the region.