The Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley was reported to have suggested that the State Department had a role in the botched Afghanistan withdrawal. Following the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country, the evacuation of the non-militants was delayed, which created a situation of chaos at the Kabul airport. Milley stated that the State Department waited too long to authorize the airlift for evacuation purposes. This statement from a confidential meeting contradicts what he stated in his public testimony before congress. The timing of the State Departments’ authorization of the evacuation process is a question needing exploration.
Differences of opinion between the Pentagon and the State Department were exposed after two days of hearings of Milley, Secretary Lloyd Austin, and General Frank McKenzie, the head of the US Central Command. It unveiled the reality that President Biden and the nation’s top military advisors were not on the same page regarding the Afghanistan withdrawal situation. It is clear from the two completely contradictory statements by President Biden and McKenzie. Gen. McKenzie testified that he had suggested keeping 2,500 troops in Afghanistan unanimously while Biden had previously stated that the military agreed upon the complete withdrawal.
During the testimony, Milley had remarked on the State Department’s timeliness once again stating that the State Department delayed the evacuation till 14th August, which was a day before the Afghan Government fell into the hands of the Taliban. The Pentagon could not initiate it before the Authorization of the State Department. Therefore, Austin had started preparing for the non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) weeks before Biden announced his plan for the US’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, a crisis still faced.