The Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 2018 to July of this year, Gen. Austin Miller, reportedly cautioned President Joe Biden against withdrawing all forces from Afghanistan and pushed back against intelligence reports that suggested the Afghan military would be able to hold its own against the Taliban insurgency without the support of U.S. forces for an additional one to three years. He indicated that the Afghan government would collapse significantly faster — a fact proven right by Biden’s disastrous withdrawal and the swift takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.
Fox News journalist Jacqui Heinrich said Miller made his remarks during a classified Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, according to multiple sources present at the hearing.
“According to two members present for the hearing, Gen. Miller passed his recommendations through the chain of command — that the U.S. should keep a level of troops on the ground (2500 was the number at the time) in order to maintain stability given the Taliban threat assessment,” Heinrich reported on social media. “Miller’s view was troops should maintain holding pattern – potentially supplemented by add’l forces from allied nations – given the threat. Miller shared no recommendation on how long forces should have stayed, making clear he didn’t know what the end timeline would be.”
“Miller also said that he strongly dissented with the intel assessment that Afghanistan would fall to the Taliban between 1-3 years, saying he thought it would go much, much faster,” Heinrich added. “Miller also said once his recommendation was turned down, it became his job to execute on the withdrawal order – and eventually, decisions like abandoning Bagram were made because of constraints and troop caps imposed by the President’s orders.”
Biden’s expensive withdrawal from Afghanistan was marked by a series of disasters, including the deaths of several stowaways who attempted who escape the country by riding on the landing gears of a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane. The withdrawal saw the deaths of 13 U.S. service members after an ISIS-K suicide bomber detonated his vest in a crowd at Kabul airport. Hundreds of Americans were subsequently left behind following the Taliban-imposed withdrawal deadline of August 31.
In response to the attack, the U.S. military killed a family of Afghans in a drone strike that the State Department had initially claimed had accurately targeted terrorists. The New York Times reported that evidence casts doubt on the official U.S. account that the vehicle a Reaper drone was tailing was carrying explosives.
Times reporting has identified the driver as Zemari Ahmadi, a longtime worker for a U.S. aid group. The evidence suggests that his travels that day actually involved transporting colleagues to and from work. And an analysis of video feeds showed that what the military may have seen was Mr. Ahmadi and a colleague loading canisters of water into his trunk to bring home to his family.
While the U.S. military said the drone strike might have killed three civilians, Times reporting shows that it killed 10, including seven children, in a dense residential block.
Biden’s withdrawal has been referred to as this administration’s “Saigon moment.”