White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says comments from two of the nation’s top generals do not contradict President Joe Biden’s statement that none of his military advisers recommended leaving U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Psaki wrote, “As [Biden] told ABC, ending the war in Afghanistan was in our national interest. He said advice was split, but consensus of top military advisors was 2500 troops staying meant escalation due to deal by the previous admin.”
“[Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin], the Chairman, and GEN McKenzie all reiterated,” she added.
As @POTUS told ABC, ending the war in Afghanistan was in our national interest. He said advice was split, but consensus of top military advisors was 2500 troops staying meant escalation due to deal by the previous admin. @SecDef, the Chairman, and GEN McKenzie all reiterated.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) September 28, 2021
During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, two of the nation’s top generals apparently contracted Biden’s claim that “no one” advised against a full withdrawal.
Gen. Frank McKenzie, who was the overall commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said, “I will give you my honest opinion, and my honest opinion and view shaped my recommendation. I recommended we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. And I also recommended earlier in the fall of 2020 that we maintain 4,500 at that time. Those were my personal views.”
He continued, “I also have a view that the withdrawal of those forces would lead inevitably to the collapse of the Afghan military forces and eventually the Afghan government.”
When asked if Biden heard the recommendation, McKenzie said, “I was present when that discussion occurred. And I’m confident that the president heard all the recommendations and listened to them very thoughtfully.”
Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also testified that he recommended keeping between 2,500 and 3,500 troops in Afghanistan.
Additionally, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was asked if their recommendations were received by the president. He responded, “Their input was received by the president and considered by the president, for sure.”
In August, Biden was asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopolous about reports that he was advised to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
He responded, “No, they didn’t. It was split. That wasn’t true. That wasn’t true.”
Stephonapolous pressed again, “So no one told [you], your military advisors did not tell you, ‘No, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It’s been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that?'”
“No. No one said that to me that I can recall. Look, George, the reason why it’s been stable for a year is because the last president said, ‘We’re leaving. And here’s the deal I wanna make with you, Taliban. We’re agreeing to leave if you agree not to attack us between now and the time we leave on May the 1st,'” the president asserted.
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