A group of retired generals is calling for Gen. Lloyd Austin to resign as Secretary of Defense over the troubled U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
President Joe Biden stuck to his Aug. 31 deadline of ending the U.S. presence in Afghanistan after a 20-year war in the country. But the end came with a mangled withdrawal. The Kabul airport was flooded with people trying to flee on Aug. 26 when a suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. service members and more than 100 Afghan people.
Ninety ex-generals and admirals are placing the blame for the disorganized exit on Gen. Austin. The group of top-ranking military officials signed an open letter demanding the resignation of Austin and Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The letter calls for their resignations “based on negligence in performing their duties primarily involving events surrounding the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan,” The Daily Mail reported.
The ex-generals and admirals said Milley and Austin should have advised Biden against the withdrawal.
“As principal military advisors to the CINC (Commander in Chief)/President, the SECDEF and CJCS should have recommended against this dangerous withdrawal in the strongest possible terms,” they wrote.
Among those who signed the letter is Admiral John Poindexter, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser.
House Rep. Ronny Jackson, the former top White House physician to Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, also signed the letter. Jackson has questioned Biden’s cognitive fitness for the job and called for Biden to take a test similar to the one given to Trump, The Daily Mail reported.
“The hasty retreat has left initial estimates 15,000 Americans stranded in dangerous areas controlled by a brutal enemy along with 25,000 Afghan citizens who supported American forces,” the 90 retired generals and admirals wrote.
As of Aug. 30, about 122,300 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan since the end of July, including about 5,500 U.S. citizens and their families, CNBC reported.
Austin issued his own statement on Aug. 30 about the end of the U.S. War in Afghanistan.
“I am deeply saddened that, in the course of this historic evacuation mission, we lost 13 of our own, along with so many others who were killed and wounded days ago by cruel terrorists,” said Austin, who came under fire during his nomination for being on the board of military contractor Raytheon. Austin has since resigned from the board.
“Our service members secured, defended, and ran a major international airport. They learned how to help consular officers screen and verify visa applicants. They provided medical care, food and water, and compassion to people in need. They flew tens of thousands of people to safety, virtually around the clock. They even delivered babies,” Austin continued.
He pointed out that dozens of U.S. diplomats moved “some 6,000 of our fellow citizens out of harm’s way” and evacuate “more than 123,000 people from Afghanistan—the vast majority of whom are Afghans, friends, and allies who fought by our side and fought for our shared values.”
Throughout the 20-year war, Austin noted that the U.S. lost 2,461 troops “and tens of thousands of others suffered wounds, seen and unseen.”
The withdrawal from Afghanistan has been a long time coming — way before Biden took office.
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Trump was clear he just wanted out of Afghanistan, The Washington Post reported.
During nine rounds of talks over 18 months, Trump struck a deal with the Taliban.
“At one point, Trump secretly invited the Taliban to the presidential retreat at Camp David on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks,” The Washington Post reported. He shut that down after a U.S. service member was killed. But in February 2020, Trump announced a deal has been reached. The U.S. would exit Afghanistan in 14 months and, in return, the Taliban agreed not to allow Afghanistan to become a haven for terrorists.
Biden blamed Trump’s Taliban deal for being forced to choose between a withdrawal now or an escalation of the war, The Washington Post reported.
“I had only one alternative,” Biden said, “to send thousands more troops back into Afghanistan to fight a war that we had already won, relative to the reason why we went in the first place.”
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