Fact Check: Military testimony on Afghanistan appears to contradict Biden’s previous statements on troop levels

In a mid-August interview, Biden repeatedly disputed that army advisers had advised him he ought to hold troops in Afghanistan after the withdrawal deadline.

When requested by ABC’s George Stephanopoulous whether or not “high army advisers warned in opposition to withdrawing on this timeline,” Biden responded, “No, they did not.”

To make clear, Stephanopoulous requested, “So nobody advised — your army advisers didn’t let you know, ‘No, we should always simply hold 2,500 troops. It has been a steady scenario for the final a number of years. We are able to do this. We are able to proceed to try this’?” To which Biden mentioned, “Nobody mentioned that to me that I can recall.”

Though high army officers “made a unanimous recommendation” on August 25 to finish the army mission in Afghanistan and transition to a diplomatic one, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Workers Gen. Mark Milley and US Central Command head Gen. Frank McKenzie each advised Congress throughout Tuesday’s testimony that they personally supported maintaining a small variety of troops previous the withdrawal deadline. They refused to share precisely what they’d advised the sitting President however shared their private opinions on the scenario.
“I will not share my private suggestion to the President however I offers you my sincere opinion. And my sincere opinion and examine formed my suggestion,” McKenzie said. “I really helpful that we keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. I additionally really helpful earlier, within the fall of 2020, that we keep 4,500 at the moment. These are my private views.”
Milley told lawmakers that his evaluation in fall 2020, which “remained constant,” was that the US ought to “hold a gradual state” of two,500 troops.

Different high administration officers additionally pushed for a slower withdrawal, in response to reporting from journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

Of their new book, “Peril,” Woodward and Costa write that Biden’s secretary of state, Antony Blinken, modified his suggestion about eradicating all US troops after a March meeting of NATO ministers. Across the identical time, Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin proposed a “gated” withdrawal with a number of phases, the authors write.

This debate spilled into Tuesday’s White Home press briefing, the place press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned a “vary of viewpoints” had been introduced to Biden from his army advisers on how one can proceed in Afghanistan, however finally it was as much as the President to make strategic selections.

Psaki additionally emphasised that none of Biden’s advisers really helpful a long-term troop presence.

“I might notice right this moment within the testimony that was given by Secretary Austin, by Common Milley, they made clear, Secretary Austin particularly mentioned, in the event you keep there at a drive posture of two,500, definitely you would be in a battle with the Taliban, and also you’d have to strengthen,” Psaki mentioned.

“It was additionally clear, and clear to him, that that may not be a long-standing suggestion, that there would must be an escalation, a rise in troop numbers, it might additionally want, it might additionally imply conflict with the Taliban and it might additionally imply the potential lack of casualties. The President was simply not prepared to make that call. He did not assume it was in our, the curiosity of the American individuals or the pursuits of, of our troops,” she continued.

“There was nobody who mentioned 5 years from now we might have 2,500 troops and that may be sustainable,” Psaki mentioned. “And I feel that is necessary for individuals to know and to grasp.”

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