Pentagon: Afghanistan withdrawal was “a strategic failure”
Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan could pose a terrorist threat to the United States in the next 12 to 36 months, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin joined Milley and head of U.S. Central Command Gen. Frank McKenzie to testify about the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August. While the officials praised a speedy exit and “the largest airlift in American history,” each admitted the Afghan government’s swift fall to the Taliban caught them by surprise.
What went wrong? McKenzie linked current difficulties to the agreement between the Trump administration and the Taliban, saying that it severely injured the morale of Afghan security forces. President Donald Trump ordered a withdrawal by May 2021 but has since said the U.S. should not have kept the agreement because the Taliban broke its promises not to attack U.S. troops. McKenzie and Milley said they advised President Joe Biden to keep 2,500 troops in the country, contradicting Biden’s assertions that no commanders opposed his plan for military withdrawal.
Dig deeper: Read Emily Belz’s report about how veterans and aid workers are responding to Taliban rule.
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