In an unexpected development during a U.S. Senate Armed Service Committee hearing Tuesday, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) he recommended to Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that 2,500 rapid-response troops be kept in Afghanistan after the majority of U.S. forces were withdrawn.
Biden has claimed for weeks that he was not given that option by any of his defense department personnel. Austin, for his part, has never commented as to whether or not the Joint Chiefs Chairman put that proposal on the table at any time during the discussion of withdrawing after 20 years from Afghanistan. When Cotton turned to him to respond, Austin evaded the question.
It was a plan that had been endorsed by President Donald Trump and, had he remained in office, was committed to implementing.
Most military commanders, once their sound advice went unheeded and disaster resulted, would resign. Milley said he will not resign his post out of protest over President Biden refusing his advice to keep 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
“Resigning is a really serious thing. It’s a political act, if I’m resigning in protest,” Milley said. “My job is to provide advice. My statutory responsibility is to provide legal advice or best military advice to the president. And that’s my legal requirement. That’s what the law is. The president doesn’t have to agree with that advice.
“It would be an incredible act of political defiance for a commissioned officer to just resign because my advice is not taken. My dad didn’t get a choice to resign at Iwo Jima. And those kids there at Abbey Gate, they don’t get the choice to resign. And I’m not going to turn my back on them.”
The contradiction of Biden’s recollection of the advice given him at the time was not the only stunning development on Tuesday at the hearing.
Austin, when confronted about how many Americans still remain behind enemy lines in Afghanistan, would not confirm or deny a number. Sen. Cotton, a retired U.S. Army Ranger, said he believes that over 4,000 Americans remained trapped in the country now ruthlessly ruled by the Taliban.
“I personally don’t believe that there are 4,000 American citizens still left in Afghanistan,” Austin said before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “But I cannot confirm or deny that.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinkin claims there are only 100 U.S. citizens still in Afghanistan and has implied those remaining have chosen not to leave. Neither number accounts for the estimated 20,000 or more Afghan civilians who qualified under the Special Immigration Visa (SIV) program for our interpreters, embassy and consulate employees and other Afghan allies who remain trapped as well.
As Austin, Milley and Gen. Frank MacKenzie, the last commander of allied forces in Afghanistan, testified before the committee Tuesday, America’s Conservative Voice reached a U.S. permanent resident ― we will only use his first name, Zekria, to protect his identity ― who painted a very different picture than that of the Biden regime.
Zekria is a security officer living in Phoenix since 2015. He returned to Kabul in July to attempt to get his remaining family out of the country, sensing an imminent U.S. withdrawal and collapse of the Afghan government. Now he believes he is trapped there, along with what he estimates to be a total of 10,000-12,-000 U.S. citizens and U.S. green card holders like himself. He hold very little hope for his family and himself being able to safely leave Afghanistan.
“There are a lot of people still left behind. My friends, I know them, they are stuck here. Four of them are American citizens. Two from Arizona and two from California,” Zekria said, adding they’ve been experiencing the same struggle to leave the country.
Attempts to reach the Americans named by Zekria proved futile Tuesday morning.
“The Biden administration left without any plan, and that is why there are thousands of allies who worked for the U.S. military, American citizens, Afghan Americans, all stuck here,” he continued, saying U.S. officials “should have evacuated qualified people first and then the others, but they didn’t.”
For its part, the Biden administration has apparently moved on from Afghanistan and is showing no interest in making a major effort to rescue U.S. citizens, legal residents or qualified SIV program candidates. Nothing was said in the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that gives any hope that attitude may change. The inept and ineffectual effort that was made resulted in many people getting out of the country who did not qualify for evacuation.
In fact, Zekria said many of the 124,000 Afghans the U.S. claims to have evacuated in the days leading up to their self-imposed August 31 deadline were not SIV card holders but “beggars displaced from other provinces.”
Only Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO was willing to adequately address this issue.
“I know it is an administration talking point that we are not leaving Americans behind, but that’s just not true,” Hawley said to Austin. “if we had not left people behind, myself and other members of this committee would not have their family and friends coming to us seeking help in getting them out. Did we leave Americans behind.”
Austin claimed they had not, but went on to say that efforts were being made to bring people home who were still in Afghanistan. His reply was nothing more than political doublespeak.
In yet another avenue of questioning, Milley continued to defend his questionable phone calls to his Chinese counterpart during the waning days of the Trump administration. He declared his “absolute” loyalty to the United States and defended his more than four decades of military service amid criticism for those calls.
“My loyalty to this nation, its people and the Constitution hasn’t changed and will never change,” Milley said.
The top U.S. military officer said he “routinely” communicated with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, and that such communications are critical to national security. However, over 150 former military officers called for Milley to resign after the calls became public knowledge.
Peril, an upcoming book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, alleges that Milley made two calls to his Chinese counterpart Gen. Li Zuocheng — one days before the 2020 election and the other days after the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol — over fears that Trump’s actions could start a war, according to The Washington Post.
Most notably among those retired officers is Andrew Vindman, the so-called “whistleblower” whose report to Congress on Donald Trump’s call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that led to the president’s second impeachment trial.
Vindman alleged that Milley worked to actively undermine the sitting Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces and contemplated a treasonous leak of classified information to the Chinese Communist Party. Milley allegedly feared Trump would start an armed conflict with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Vindman and the other retired officers framed those actions by General Milley as a “clear lack of sound judgement,” and in a letter dated September 13, addressed to Biden and Austin, urged them to dismiss him immediately. Of course, no action has been taken.
Overall, the hearing did very little to clear up cause of the chaos that was our abandonment of Afghanistan. It is abundantly clear that the Biden regime does not care if U.S. citizens, legal residents and SIV card holders still in-country get out. This incompetent, corrupt, anti-American cabal of Fascists running our country completely and utterly failed to get our people home and our allies out. That is a fact and it is a disgrace to this nation and her people.
Our military’s unofficial motto for 245 years has been “Leave no man (or woman) behind.” Biden has stomped on that motto and ground it into the dirt. It is time the American people awaken from their docility and demand those responsible answer for their failures.
If we do not, this regime will continue to seize power without no accountability, undermining the other two branches of government and establishing a dictatorship here in the late, great United States.
Mike Nichols is a conservative, a patriot, U.S. Army veteran, licensed professional counselor, political enthusiast, sports fan and writer living with his beautiful wife Liz in the Heartland. He has a regular blog at America’s Conservative Voice on Substack and a Facebook presence at Americas Conservative Voice-Facebook.
Image attribution: By U.S. Secretary of Defense – 210210-D-BN624-0638, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99780188