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US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman calls Afghanistan a ‘strategic failure'

Washington's decision to withdraw its military forces from Afghanistan after nearly two decades has hindered the nation's standing with partner nations and allies, according to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.

The four-star general, along with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the Commander of US Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie, will be appearing this week on Capitol Hill for a series of public and closed-door hearings about the end of US troop presence inside the Central Asian nation. President Joe Biden's steadfast decision to pull military boots off the ground by the end of August led to divides with partner and allied nations over the deadline, especially since many Afghan special immigrant visa (SIV) applicants were unable to flee by then along with civilians from other nations and the United States.

“We do owe a debt of gratitude to the people [in the US military] that got 124,000 people out” during the non-combatant evacuation operation, Gen Milley told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on 28 September. “It was a logistical success, but this is a strategic failure.”

Although neither Gen Milley nor Gen McKenzie discussed direct conversations with Biden, they both told lawmakers that their best military advice had been to keep US troops on the ground. For Gen McKenzie, this meant that in late 2020 he recommended that the US keep 4,500 troops there, however, he reduced that figure down to 2,500 troops this year.

Gen Milley told lawmakers that he too shared a similar opinion.

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