DECEMBER 9, 2022
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Ex-NATO Commander Testifies on Warnings Against Full Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Ex-NATO Commander Testifies on Warnings Against Full Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Retired Army Gen. Austin Scott Miller, former NATO commander of US forces in Afghanistan, testified before Congress last month, revealing that he had advised the Biden administration against a full withdrawal of troops, warning that it “would go very bad very fast.”

In his April 15 testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Miller explained that removing all US forces would leave the Western-backed government in Kabul highly vulnerable to a Taliban offensive. This prediction was borne out when the Taliban swiftly overran Afghanistan in August 2021.

“My recommendation was that we retain a footprint,” Miller said. “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.”

Miller emphasized that both the Trump and Biden administrations were informed of his recommendation to keep at least 2,500 troops stationed at bases in Kabul and Bagram Airfield. However, the Bagram Airfield was abandoned by US military forces a 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.”

Miller's testimony shed light on the challenges and risks of the withdrawal process. While former President Donald Trump had initiated the withdrawal through the 2020 Doha Agreement, Miller noted that the Taliban had already begun indirect fire attacks, signaling their intention to take military control.

He criticized efforts by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other Biden officials to negotiate a power-sharing deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government, describing the Afghan government's downfall as a gradual process rather than a sudden collapse.

“I’d say the Afghan Government died of a thousand cuts as opposed to a tipping point-type thing,” Miller testified. He added that President Biden’s announcement on April 14, 2021, of a full withdrawal accelerated this process.

Reflecting on the situation during the final evacuation, Miller admitted to feeling fear for the safety of his troops. “At that point, my focus was, ‘How do I get these guys out of here without hurting somebody?’” he said. “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.”

Miller's testimony provides a stark account of the complexities and perils involved in the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, highlighting the consequences of reducing troop presence without securing a stable political or security environment.

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On this day

On This Day

On this day (June 23), 1980, the Soviet Union announced the beginning of its withdrawal from Afghanistan. 





on this day