Biden was advised to keep troops in Afghanistan, say top US generals
Top generals of US military said on Tuesday that they had advised US President Joe Biden to keep troops in Afghanistan. The statements, made to US Congress appear to go against Biden claim that he did not recall receiving such an advice. General Mark Milley and General Frank McKenzie testified before US Congress. The generals, along with Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, were questioned by Senate armed services committee
McKenzie and Milley both testified that they had believed it would have been best to keep a minimum of 2,500 troops in the country. In an August interview, Biden denied his commanders had recommended keeping 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
Taliban took power in a lightning offensive in August after all US troops withdrew from the country. This caused fall of former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's government. This led to a frenzied evacuation effort of foreign diplomats and Afghan civilians.
Milley, Austin, and General Frank McKenzie of U.S. Central Command all acknowledged being caught off-guard by the speed of the Taliban takeover following the collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.
Republican lawmakers accused President Joe Biden of lying about recommendations from his military that some troops should be kept in the country. And even Biden's Democrats expressed frustration with the withdrawal that left U.S. troops dead and American citizens behind.
Milley refused to be drawn on whether Biden had lied when pressed by Republican Senator Dan Sullivan
"I'm not going to categorize a statement of the President of the United States," Milley said.
Meanwhile, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that the US would have been at war with the Taliban had it maintained 2500 troops in Afghanistan.
His comments came as she tried to clarify apparent difference between the stance taken by US President Joe Biden and his military advisers.
US Secretary pf Defence Lloyd Austin praised US personnel who helped airlift 124,000 Afghans out of the country.
But Milley acknowledged that while the evacuation effort was a logistical accomplishment, the U.S. withdrawal was a "strategic defeat" that left the Taliban back in power.