WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Top officials with the U.S military were in the hot seat as senators questioned them about the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“An outcome that is a strategic failure. The enemy is in charge in Kabul,” said Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
That is how Milley described the end of America’s war in Afghanistan as senators questioned him and other Pentagon officials on the withdrawal.
“That outcome is a cumulative effect of 20 years, not 20 days,” Milley said.
“We certainly did not plan against a collapse of a government in 11 days,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Milley told Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) he wanted to keep a presence in Afghanistan with about 2,500 American soldiers on the ground.
“And those options were declined?” Blackburn asked.
“There were options presented and debated. A decision was made,” Milley replied.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) expressed his disappointment to Austin with how President Biden handled the situation and how the Pentagon left citizens in Afghanistan.
“Please don’t tell me that we’re not leaving Americans behind. You left them behind. Joe Biden left them behind and frankly, it was a disgrace,” Hawley said.
U.S. Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie was questioned by Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) on the future threats the region could pose to the U.S.
“Are you confident, confident that we can deny organizations like Al Qaeda and ISIS the ability to use Afghanistan as a launchpad for terrorist activity?” Kelly asked.
“I think that’s yet to be seen,” McKenzie replied.
The military leaders face questioning from House members on Wednesday morning.