- Senior military officials told senators on Tuesday that they would have kept U.S. troops in Afghanistan
- Their testimony contradicted President Biden’s claims senior advisers did not recommend keeping troops
- Gen Frank McKenzie said he recommended keeping 2500 troops to prevent a Taliban takeover
- And Gen Mark Milley said his analysis was that a hasty withdrawal could trigger the collapse of Kabul
- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said: ‘Their input was received by the president … for sure.’
- Yet in an August 18 interview Biden had said none of his advisers warned against bringing home all U.S. troops
- The new evidence, given before the Senate Armed Services Committee, triggered Republican anger
- Sen Josh Hawley said: ‘The president of the United States lied to the American people’
- It was the first time Pentagon leaders testified since the U.S. completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan
- They faced sharp questions about the pullout and whether they anticipated the Taliban’s rapid takeover
Republicans accused President Biden of lying to the American people after top military officers said publicly for the first time on Tuesday that they advised the commander-in-chief to leave 2500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to prevent a Taliban takeover.
Testimony provided by the country’s defense secretary and two senior generals contradicted Biden’s claims he was never warned by military advisers that bringing home American soldiers risked the collapse of a fragile government in Kabul.
The result was a slew of furious accusations that Biden ignored advice and then lied to the country.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley said: ‘Here’s what I’ve learned so far: Number one, the president of the United States lied to the American people about the advice that you gave to him, about the military judgement that you provided for him.
‘I think you’ve all testified to that effect now repeatedly.’
Biden has been under intense pressure to defend his handling of the withdrawal.
The Taliban moved rapidly across the country ahead of his August 31 deadline to get Americans out of Afghanistan, seizing the capital Kabul on August 15.
Biden and his officials have insisted the speed of their advance and the collapse of Afghan security forces took them by surprise.
In an August 18 interview with George Stephanopoulos, the president even denied that he withdrew troops against the recommendation of his senior military advisers.
But McKenzie, head of US Central Command and who oversaw the final days of the war in Afghanistan, said he repeatedly argued that a small presence of U.S. troops was essential for stability.
‘I stated consistently that my position was, if you go below 2500 you’re going to look at a collapse of the Afghan military,’ he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
‘I didn’t I did not foresee it to be days … I thought it would take months.’
In response, the White House tried to play down the testimony and the idea that Biden had ignored the advice of senior military advisers.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that Biden had told Stephanopoulos that his advisers were divided, and later said that he was entitled to choose between a range of recommendations.
‘He’s the commander in chief,’ she said during the daily briefing. ‘He’s the president.
‘He makes decisions about that what’s in the national interest, and he believed we should end the war.’