Milley may also be asked about the phone calls where he reportedly said he would warn China of a US attack
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and Chief of US Central Command General Frank McKenzie are set to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday morning and are expected to face questioning from lawmakers on both sides. Is. Corridor on the Biden administration’s chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The hearing comes nearly a month after the Biden administration withdrew all US military assets from the area after being there for 20 years following the August 31, 2001 attacks.
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Top military officials are expected to question a number of factors – including his plans to withdraw, his plans to expel Americans and Afghan allies from the country and the August 26 suicide bombing outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The bombing killed 13 US service members – including 11 Marines, a Navy sailor and an Army soldier. Eighteen other US service members were injured. More than 150 civilians were killed in the bombing.
As the Biden administration began the withdrawal of military assets, provincial capitals throughout Afghanistan fell into the hands of the Taliban. By mid-August, the Taliban had gained control of two-thirds of Afghanistan. And by the time the US withdrew all US troops from the country on August 31, Kabul had also fallen into the hands of the Taliban. In mid-August, US intelligence assessments estimated the capital city could come under Taliban control within 90 days.
Austin, Milley and McKenzie may also face questions about a US drone strike aimed at ISIS-K terrorists in Kabul on August 29. The Pentagon later acknowledged that the attack was unlikely to have killed any members of ISIS-K and instead resulted in civilian casualties, including seven children.
The drone strike was aimed at ISIS-K operatives, resulting in the deaths of nine members of his family, including an aid worker and his seven children. According to US officials, the attack on the vehicle, which was previously believed to be a threat, included bombs and was operated by ISIS-K militants, following a suicide bombing that killed 13 US service members.
Pentagon: ‘No question’ Afghanistan withdrawal makes identification of terrorism threat more difficult
Prior to the Pentagon’s admission, Milley defended the strike as “righteous”, but later, described it as a “terrible tragedy of war” and called for the Pentagon to be “completely transparent about the incident”. Committed to.”
The withdrawal concluded on August 31, with administration officials admitting to leaving more than 100 American citizens behind. Administration officials, however, said that their mission in Afghanistan had shifted from a military mission to a diplomatic one, with some saying they were working with the Taliban to help those Americans and US visa holders as well as some Afghans. To ensure safe passage for allies. vacate the country
Since the withdrawal, Austin and other top military officials have acknowledged that without troops on the ground in Afghanistan to identify and counter terrorist threats from the region will “no question” be “more difficult”.
Austin said officials are “committed to ensuring that threats are not allowed to develop … that could pose significant challenges to us in the homeland.”
And earlier this month, Austin said it was “possible” that the US would work with the Taliban against ISIS-K in Afghanistan.
Separately, Milley may face questions about revelations published in “Peril,” a new book co-authored by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
The allegations, made public earlier this month, said Milley made two secret phone calls to his Chinese counterpart, General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army. trump Administration. The book alleges that the phone calls took place before the 2020 presidential election, on October 30, 2020, and again on January 8, 2021, two days after the January 6 Capitol riots.
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The book claims that Milley contacted Li after reviewing intelligence that Chinese officials believed the United States was planning an attack on China amid military exercises in the South China Sea. Was. The book’s authors also claim that Milley contacted Lee for a second time to assure him that the US would not make any progress or attack China in any way, as Milley promised, “We 100% stable. Everything is fine. But democracy can get muddy sometimes.”
Milley’s spokesman, Colonel Dave Butler, defended the talks, saying the talks were “important” to “reduce tensions” and “avoid unexpected consequences or conflict”, adding that the calls were coordinated with high-level defense officials. .
“The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Defense regularly communicates with defense chiefs around the world, including China and Russia. These conversations are designed to improve mutual understanding of US national security interests, reduce tensions, provide clarity, and avoid unintended consequences or conflict. important to.” Butler said earlier this month.
Butler said that “Mile’s calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with these reassuring duties and responsibilities to maintain strategic stability.”
“All calls made by the president to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffed, coordinated and communicated with the Department of Defense and interagency,” Butler said.
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Butler continued, “In keeping with his responsibilities as senior military adviser to the President and the Secretary of Defense, General Milley frequently holds meetings with uniformed leaders across all services to keep all leaders informed of current issues.” ” “The meeting regarding the Nuclear Weapons Protocol was intended to remind uniformed leaders at the Pentagon of long-established and robust procedures in light of media reporting on the subject.”
Butler said: “General Mille continues to act and advise within his authority in the legitimate tradition of civilian control of the military and his oath to the Constitution.”
Since the revelations, Milley has faced calls to resign. But President Biden has said he has full confidence in the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.