Generals blame state dept for Afghan disaster

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The two senior generals in charge of the US military during the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 both blamed the State Department for not sooner ordering a “noncombatant evacuation operation” for remaining US citizens in Afghanistan in a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

“It is my assessment that that decision came too late,” retired Gen. Mark Milley, former Joint Chiefs chairman, said at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.

Retired Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, former commander of US Central Command, said that “the events of mid- and late August 2021 were the direct result of delaying the initiation of the NEO (evacuation) for several months, in fact, until we were in extremis, and the Taliban had overrun the country.” McKenzie said he began to doubt the State Department’s ability to carry out an evacuation one month earlier, as the Taliban swept across the country.

Milley and McKenzie have spoken about mistakes made during the withdrawal, including the failures of the intelligence community to predict the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and military, but Tuesday’s comments were their most candid statements about the end of the US’ longest war. They provided the clearest picture to date of the friction between the Defense Department and the State Department, as the former pushed for the order to evacuate and the latter delayed that decision.

Milley said the consensus military recommendation to the Biden administration was to evacuate US Embassy personnel from Kabul at the same time as the military forces were withdrawing.

“After the decisions were made to keep a diplomatic presence there, as the situation deteriorated through the summer and the fall in the provincial capitals, etc., we were clearly pressing for early calls to execute a NEO,” said Milley.

McKenzie also accused the US Embassy in Kabul of obstructing coordination on a possible evacuation plan with the military.


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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!