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Joe Biden reportedly rejected the advice of top military generals when he planned the withdrawal of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Biden met with several heads of the armed forces to discuss the withdrawal of American forces from the Central Asian nation, which has been under U.S. occupation for around two decades. The meeting happened ahead of Biden’s announcement of his intent to have the United States leave the country entirely.
The generals recommended that Biden leave behind a force of 2,500 servicemen in Afghanistan and negotiate with Taliban for a peace deal. Biden reportedly rejected their advice.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
In contrast to the numerous Trump policies he reversed, he opted to carry out Mr. Trump’s deal with the Taliban instead of trying to renegotiate it. In so doing, he overruled his top military commanders: Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East; Gen. Austin Scott Miller, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan; and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Citing the risks of removing American forces to Afghan security and the U.S. Embassy, they recommended that the U.S. keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan while stepping up diplomacy to try to cement a peace agreement.
The report surfaced amid the total collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government, whose leader, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, fled the country on Sunday morning as Taliban forces made their way into Kabul, the nation’s capital. The Taliban and the remainder of the Afghan government are currently negotiating a transfer of power reportedly with the intention to minimize civilian and military casualties.
The transfer of power comes as the United States is abandoning its embassy in Kabul, with personnel and officials using Kabul’s airport to evacuate the country.
However, plans to evacuate were thrown into disarray when the U.S. embassy issued a notice warning Americans still in Kabul to “shelter in place.”
“We are instructing U.S. citizens to shelter in place,” the embassy said. “The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has suspended consular operations effective immediately. Do not come to the Embassy or airport at this time.”
“The security situation in Kabul is changing quickly and the situation at the airport is deteriorating rapidly,” the statement added. “There are reports of the airport taking fire and we are instructing U.S. citizens to shelter in place. The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has suspended consular operations effective immediately. Do not come to the Embassy or airport at this time.”
“U.S. citizens needing assistance in departing the country should register for any option that might be identified to return to the United States,” the statement read.
Latest security alert from US Embassy in Kabul: "We are instructing U.S. citizens to shelter in place. The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has suspended consular operations effective immediately. Do not come to the Embassy or airport at this time." pic.twitter.com/U81fjEsXNx
— Dion Nissenbaum (@DionNissenbaum) August 15, 2021
The Wall Street Journal report follows remarks by Secretary of State Antony Blinken who declared America’s pullout of military forces from Afghanistan a “success,” in which he told ABC News that comparisons to Saigon were not apt.
Blinken also insisted that the evacuation from Kabul was “orderly” amid heavy criticism and comparisons to the United States’ evacuation from Vietnam in 1975.
“Here’s the choice the president faced, again, remember that a deadline was established by the previous administration of May 1st to get our remaining forces out of Afghanistan and the idea that we could’ve sustained the status quo by keeping our forces there, I think, is wrong, because here’s what would have happened if the president decided to keep those forces there,” Blinken said. “During the period from when the agreement was reached to May 1st, that Taliban had ceased attacking our forces ceased attacking NATO forces. It had also held off on this major offensive that we see now to try to take over the country to go for these provincial capitals, which in recent weeks it has succeeded in doing.”
“Come May 2nd, if the President decided to say — all gloves would have been off. We would have been back at war with the Taliban. They would have been attacking our forces. We would have had 2,500 or so forces remaining in the country with airpower,” Blinken said.
Last month, Biden boasted that the Taliban takeover of the Central Asian country was not “inevitable,” insisting that Afghan forces armed by the United States would be able to handle the Taliban.
“No, it’s not,” said Biden on July 8 in response to journalists who grilled the president about the potential outcome of the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Biden said that the then-U.S.-backed Afghan government had “300,000 well-equipped” soldiers, adding that they were “as well-equipped as any army in the world.”