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Waltz Presses Generals Milley & McKenzie on Biden’s Disastrous Withdrawal from Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, U.S. Congressman Mike Waltz (FL-6) pressed Former of Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff General (Ret.) Mark Milley and Former Commander of U.S. Central Command General (Ret.) Kenneth McKenzie Jr. for answers on the Biden Administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and the killing of thirteen service men and women at Abbey Gate during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.

Watch the full exchange here.

“The more I listen to this hearing, the more infuriated I get,” said Waltz. “I know the Gold Star families sitting here have to feel the same way. I know every veteran watching today has to feel the same way because it is not about us, it is about them. And I think what upsets them most, General Milley and General McKenzie, are some of the statements from the President during this evacuation, including an interview that the President gave on national television, during the withdrawal on August 18th, saying the Generals never advised me to leave 2,500 and the only air base, Bagram Air Base, in the world sandwiched between China, Russia, Iran, and a platform to stay after counter-terrorism.”

Waltz asked, “General Milley, is that an accurate statement that the Generals never advised him to leave a stay-behind force to keep a lid on half of the world’s terrorist organizations?”

“I will tell you what my thoughts were at the time, my assessments at the time…” said Milley.

“You both testified today, repeatedly, that you advised the National Command Authority to leave a stay-behind-force,” said Waltz.

“That is correct,” said Milley.

Waltz asked, “Did President Trump leave that stay-behind-force, despite his stated desire to get everybody out because the Taliban did not meet the conditions?”

“When the administrations changed hands there were 2,500 soldiers,” said Milley.

Waltz continued, “You have stated today that you did not advise Biden to pull everybody out, you advised him to stay.”

“That’s correct,” said Milley.

Waltz read the first quote from Biden on the poster behind him. Waltz asked, “Does that comport with your knowledge at the time? In fact, in just a few weeks later you said Kabul would be surrounded in thirty to sixty days.”

“That is right. My assessment at the time was if we went to zero in U.S. military forces then there was a high likelihood of a collapse of the government of Afghanistan and the ANSF with the Taliban taking over,” responded Milley.

“It would collapse,” said Waltz.

Milley went on, “I personally thought it was going to be in the fall, somewhere around Thanksgiving.”

“We are talking within months,” said Waltz.

“Within months of our withdrawal, that is correct,” responded Milley.

Waltz read the second quote from Biden and pointed to photos of U.S. embassy evacuations in both Saigon and Kabul, “I think this picture proves that not to be the case.”

Next, Waltz read the third quote from Biden and asked, “Was that your understanding of the operational planning at the time? To stay beyond August 31st or were you planning to get out by August 31st?”

“Planning to get out by August 31st,” affirmed Milley.

Finally, Waltz read the last and “most egregious” quote from Biden. Waltz asked, “You just testified, General Milley, that it was impossible to know the number. Is that accurate? It was very difficult to know the number.”

“Very difficult and I do not think the numbers were accurate,” said Milley.

Waltz continued, “In July of 2021, Bagram is closing, we are withdrawing our Four-Star Commander General Milley, Ghani is visiting President Biden practically begging us to at least leave our contractors and some little bit of air support.”

“General McKenzie, you testified that you were so concerned in July of 2021 that you put up recommendations, including lily-pads to get our allies out, putting pieces in place to process our SIVs faster, putting measures in place to get our American citizens out, to get our allies out, and to take care of what American military should do, which is protecting all Americans,” said Waltz. “You were so concerned in July of 2021, you put those recommendations forward, that is what you have testified today.”

“That is correct,” replied McKenzie.

“Also, the diplomats on the ground, Mr. Chairman, sent a dissent cable, twenty-three diplomats, saying if you continue down this road, disaster will ensure.” Waltz asked, “Was that dissent cable shared with either of you? This is a formal channel going to the Secreatry of State himself. Was that shared with you as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs? Was that shared with you as Commander?

“I have never seen it,” said McKenzie.

“I did not see it at the time and I have not seen it since. I would like to see that dissent,” replied Milley.

“I think the American people would like to see that,” said Waltz. He went on to question, “Do you know where the Secretary of State was on August 13th, the day before Kabul fell? Do you know where the Secretary of State was? Despite all of your concerns.”

Waltz continued, “According to the Washington Post, he was in the Hamptons… on vacation. Secretary of State Blinken. I cannot even imagine how that makes our Gold Star families feel.”

“The State Department, to use a military term, had its head up its rear,” said Waltz. “It was not planning. It, in fact, thought we could just have an embassy and the ‘good Taliban terrorists’ will take care of the ‘bad Taliban terrorists.’ I mean, that is essentially what happened. And because of that, we did not get our people out, we did not get our citizens out, we did not have the force posture, we did not have the basing. We failed and their loved ones are dead because of it.”

“I apologize to you, to my Gold Star families,” said Waltz. “Your government failed you. There is a difference, gentlemen and I know you both know this, in taking responsibility and accountability. A lot of people have taking responsibility. No one has been held accountable and they deserve better. Your government failed you.”