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Former NATO commander warned White House Afghanistan pullout ‘would go very bad very fast’ before botched operation that left 13 US forces dead

A former NATO commander of US forces in Afghanistan testified to Congress final month that he suggested the Biden administration that a full withdrawal of troops from the war-torn nation “would go very bad very fast.”

Retired Army Gen. Austin Scott Miller instructed members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in an April 15 transcribed interview that “going to zero” troop presence would have left the Western-backed authorities in Kabul susceptible to a Taliban offensive just like the one which overran the nation in August 2021.

“My recommendation was that we retain a footprint,” Miller mentioned. “I could not rule out a need for a surge down the road to protect forces. But at the same time, I didn’t necessarily think it was the most likely.”

Resolute Support Mission Commander United States Army General Austin Scott Miller waits for the start a meeting of the North Atlantic Council and Resolute Support at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018.
Retired Army Gen. Austin Scott Miller instructed members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in an April 15 transcribed interview that “going to zero” US presence would have left Afghanistan susceptible to the Taliban. AP

The four-star common added that he had knowledgeable each the Trump and Biden administrations that his suggestion was to maintain not less than 2,500 forces on the bottom in bases at each Kabul and Bagram Airfield, the latter of which was deserted by the US army one month before the full-scale evacuation.

“My view was that, going to zero, things would go very bad very fast,” Miller recalled. “And of course, [I] define that [as] not prepared for a political or a security collapse while we’re still present, just wouldn’t be prepared.”

While former President Donald Trump had initiated the withdrawal by the 2020 Doha Agreement, Miller instructed House panel members that the Taliban launched “at least a couple indirect fire attacks.”

In this handout provided by U.S. Central Command Public Affairs, U.S. Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load passengers aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III in support of the Afghanistan evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) on August 24, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The four-star common added that he had knowledgeable each the Trump and Biden administrations that his suggestion held not less than 2,500 on the bottom in bases at Kabul and Bagram, which was deserted by the US army one month before the full-scale evacuation. U.S. Air Forces Europe-Africa vi

That aggression was just the start of what he believed could be an entire “military takeover” — regardless of efforts by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and different Biden officers to dealer a “power-sharing” deal between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities.

“I’d say the Afghan Government died of a thousand cuts as opposed to a tipping point-type thing,” Miller testified, including that President Biden’s resolution to announce a full withdrawal of US diplomats and army personnel on April 14, 2021, solely quickened that course of.

“[A]t that point, my focus was, ‘How do I get these guys out of here without hurting somebody?’” he mentioned. “And I’m going to be very honest with all of you. You want to talk about — I don’t usually get scared. I don’t. I was scared. And you know what I was afraid of? I was afraid I was going to lose somebody.”

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his plan to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, at the White House, Washington, U.S., April 14, 2021.
President Biden’s resolution to announce the “Go-to-Zero” order for a full withdrawal of US diplomats and army personnel on April 14, 2021 solely quickened the Taliban takeover, Miller testified. REUTERS

Miller mentioned he advocated in May 2021, weeks after Biden’s order, for the evacuation of the US embassy in Kabul, however State Department officers had “a lack of understanding of the risk.”

Other ex-officials who’ve testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee additionally faulted the company’s selection of diplomats for the botched bugout three months later.

“In my perspective, they did not send their best,” a former international service officer mentioned in a Sept. 15, 2023, interview. “In fact, they may have sent their worst.”

In this image provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, a Marine with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - Crisis Response - Central Command, takes care of a young girl awaiting processing at an evacuation control checkpoint during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021.
Other ex-officials who’ve testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee additionally faulted the company’s selection of diplomats for the botched bugout three months later. AP

Months later, as noncombatant evacuations have been going down in Kabul, ISIS-Ok suicide bomber Abdul Rahman al-Logari blew himself up outdoors Hamid Karzai International Airport’s Abbey Gate, killing 13 US service members and virtually 200 Afghans.

The terrorist had been free of his jail at Bagram throughout the Taliban takeover weeks before.

Miller concluded that State Department officers had requested the evacuation “too late,” which put US troops in a tricky spot.

“[I]f the building’s already on fire before you start evacuating it,” he mentioned, “it’s a much more challenging evacuation.”

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