Chris Wallace spoke on Fox News Wednesday afternoon and discussed with host Martha MacCallum the Afghanistan disaster. Wallace informed MacCallum during the interview that he had heard from reputable sources that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, strongly advised Joe Biden not to leave Bagram Air Base.
Moreover, Wallace stated, “Milley recommended to Biden in April 2021 that 2,500 soldiers remain in Bagram to assist Afghan forces.” Biden was contemplating whether to honor President Trump’s conditional arrangement with the Taliban and the Afghan government. On May 1, it was set as the withdrawal date if the Taliban and the Afghan government met specific requirements. The Taliban were making gains in several regions. The decision to withdraw from Bagram, Afghanistan’s primary US base, has not been made. It casts doubt on Biden’s previous statement that Trump’s withdrawal strategy constrained his activities. Biden must decide whether to remain with the May 1 plan or take a new track.
According to Wallace, Biden disregarded Gen. Milley and ordered a 600-700-strong troop reduction ahead of the ultimate departure on September 11, the twentieth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. Biden selected that day to commemorate the war’s conclusion with a photo op. It was not based on the recognized combat season in the nation. Even then, with the Taliban controlling most of Afghanistan, it was dangerous and likely to backfire.
Gen. Mark Milley told Congress in June that “the Pentagon no longer requires Bagram Air Base.” Why did he approve the withdrawal from Bagram on June 23? Biden has looked to be working from a position of weakness throughout this tragedy. Nobody has even discussed the prospect of invading Bagram and destroying the billions of dollars worth of military hardware that has been placed there. The Taliban is likely using Americans as bargaining chips, effectively holding them captive.
Hence, Gen. Mark Milley may have misled Congress if he was indeed overruled in April and then told Congress he didn’t need Bagram. It does not take a general to understand that “ending” war is not synonymous with “winning.” Consequently, a catastrophic withdrawal in which they abandoned Americans disgraces them, enrages allies, and empowers the adversaries.