Gen. Milley , chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, said Tuesday during testimony on Capitol Hill that they believed roughly 2,000 troops should have remained in Afghanistan.
- McKenzie, during testimony in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, explained that he “recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan” because he believed that pulling the troops would “inevitably” lead “to the collapse” of the Afghan military and government.
- Milley indicated his agreement, though neither leader was willing to answer specific questions about their recommendations to the president and only spoke to their opinions.
- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff acknowledged that his “assessment was, back in the fall of , and remained consistent throughout, that we should keep a steady state of 2,500 [troops], and it could bounce up to, to 3,500 maybe, something like that, in order to move to a negotiated gated solution.”
- It’s unclear when they came to these conclusions, and whether it was at a point at which additional troops would have needed to be recommitted. Milley noted that on Aug. 25, six days before the withdrawal, military officials were unanimous in their support of leaving Afghanistan because it would require recommitting to the war.