NEWS & ANALYSIS

Milley, McKenzie Say they Recommended 2,500 Troops Remain in Afghanistan, Biden Claims He Was Never Told


Top military officials on Tuesday testified that they recommended the U.S. should keep at least 2,500 troops in Afghanistan with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin saying that their input was “received” by Biden.

Biden, however, claimed otherwise.

Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and head of U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie stood before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday for a hearing on the botched Afghanistan withdrawal. 

McKenzie and Milley both said that they recommended keeping some kind of a presence in Afghanistan, per Fox News. 

“I won’t share my personal recommendation to the president, but I will give you my honest opinion and my honest opinion and view shaped my recommendation,” McKenzie said. “And I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.” 

“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,” McKenzie added.

Milley said his assessment was “back in the fall of 2020, and remained consistent throughout, that we should keep a steady state of 2,500 and it could bounce up to 3,500, maybe, something like that, in order to move toward a negotiated solution.” 

While Biden and several White House officials have claimed no military advisers recommended keeping troops there, Austin said otherwise.

“Their input was received by the president and considered by the president for sure,” Austin said.