President Joe Biden denied in a recent interview that his top military commanders advised him to leave a contingency force of 2,500 troops in Afghanistan to secure equipment and oversee the evacuation.
However, on Thursday, White House Press Secretary was asked directly about multiple reports attesting to the advice given to Biden and indirectly confirmed that is exactly what happened. Watch:
“Can you explain the rationale for why President Biden went against the advice of military commanders who recommended leaving 2,500 troops on the ground in Afghanistan?” Fox News’ White House correspondent Kristin Fisher asked.
“Well, I think that’s an over-characterization of every military leader, and I don’t think they’ve all provided their point of view on what their advice is, and we’ll keep that private,” Psaki replied without providing a reason.
“So you can certainly speak to individuals, if you’d like, of course,” Psaki continued. “I will say, again, the President welcomed the advice; welcomed, at times, disagreement about what the appropriate path forward should be. But his view, based on the assessments of where our terrorist threat exists today — the fact that it has metastasized, that it has spread into many other regions of the world, that we can still — we still do have the ability to have a presence in the region where we can keep our eye on the terrorist threat that it led him to make — to conclude that now is the time for troops to leave.”
“I think it’s important also to note that we have — that his view is that we can’t continue the cycle of — standing or expanding our military footprint, hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal,” she went on. “No one will tell you — unless someone has told you, and then tell me that, of course — that we should stay forever. No military commander wants to stay forever,” Psaki added. “They insist that this is not — some insist this is not in time — the time to leave — some opponents of his decision. But his view is that we’ve been having that argument, that argument has been made for 10 years, and it has not changed the outcome, has not made a military solution more appealing or more effective.”
Fisher then followed up on Psaki’s assessment of the military generals’ consultation with President Biden.
“So our Pentagon team reports that most military commanders in the region — and I don’t want to give any names because I don’t want to, you know, violate any on-background agreements — but you know, they say that most military commanders in the region recommended that 2,500-troop level,” the reporter noted. “And if you look at then-candidate Biden’s own comments from about a year ago, he said that he wanted to leave several thousand troops in Afghanistan. So what changed between now and then?”
“He asked his team for a clear assessment, he — to make a determination about the best path forward. I will remind everyone that he has been someone who has long… opposed the surge in Afghanistan,” Psaki responded. “He has long viewed the presence, the military presence in Afghanistan, as something that was not a constructive, long-term solution. That has been his consistent view.”
“At the same time, because we have the ability to work with our partners in the region to have a presence where we can… allow ourselves to keep an eye on the terrorist threat, he feels this is something that is in our interest as a country and now is the time to do it,” she added.
Earlier, President Biden denied in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he was advised to leave 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
“Your top military advisers warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops,” Stephanopoulos said.
“No, they didn’t. It was split. That–That wasn’t true. That wasn’t true,” Biden replied.
“They didn’t tell you that they wanted troops to stay?” Stephanopoulos followed up.
“No. Not at — not in terms of whether we were going to get out in a timeframe all troops (sic),” Biden said. “They didn’t argue against that.”
“So no one told — 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’?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“No. No one said that to me that I can recall,” Biden said. “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 military advice given to President Biden was detailed in a Wall Street Journal article following his Monday speech on the Afghanistan withdrawal. It is an indictment of the Commander-in-Chief’s decision and shows that the horrific aftermath is due to Biden’s failure to properly assess the risks of an immediate military withdrawal.
“The president’s top generals, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley, urged Mr. Biden to keep a force of about 2,500 troops, the size he inherited, while seeking a peace agreement between warring Afghan factions, to help maintain stability,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who previously served as a military commander in the region, said a full withdrawal wouldn’t provide any insurance against instability.”
“In a series of meetings leading up to his decision, military and intelligence officials told Mr. Biden that security was deteriorating in Afghanistan, and they expressed concerns both about the capabilities of the Afghan military and the Taliban’s likely ability to take over major Afghan cities,” the report continued.
“Other advisers, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, raised the possibility of Taliban attacks on U.S. forces and diplomats as well as the Afghans who for two decades worked alongside them,” the report added. “Ultimately, neither disagreed with the president, knowing where he stood.”
The Washington Post provided further insight into how the Biden order to withdraw military troops unfolded, culminating in the terrible events this weekend.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in June that he did not expect an “immediate deterioration in the situation” if U.S. troops withdrew, the publication notes.
“Whatever happens in Afghanistan, if there is a significant deterioration in security — that could well happen, we have discussed this before — I don’t think it’s going to be something that happens from a Friday to a Monday,” Blinken said.
However, that is almost precisely what happened. President Biden then conceded that his withdrawal did not go the way that he had foreseen.
“The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” Biden continued. “So what’s happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight.”
On Tuesday night, former President Donald Trump, who had begun the military drawdown in Afghanistan, explained how he would have done things differently if he were still Commander-in-Chief.
“Think of this, we have a military that’s holding [Afghanistan],” Trump said. “I had it reduced down to 2,500 soldiers and they were doing a good job. It was fine. It was a smaller force. I took it down from close to twenty (thousand) to 2,500. And we were fine.”
“But we have the military there, and we take the military out before we took our civilians out,” Trump pointed out. “And before we took the interpreters and others — we want to try to help them.”
On Thursday, Donald Trump weighed in with some much-needed perspective about what should have happened in Afghanistan.
“First you bring out all the American citizens. Then you bring out ALL the equipment. Then you bomb the bases to smithereens — and then you bring out the military,” he said.
It appears that Joe Biden is incapable of even following basic common sense, let alone being Commander-in-Chief of one of the strongest military forces in the world. It looks like Biden’s ability to lead is deteriorating by the day.
Biden Humiliates Himself on Afghan Withdrawal in ‘Presidency Defining’ Interview with George Stephanopoulos
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.