Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin appeared on Capitol Hill this week for testimony related to the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) reacted to the situation by calling on both military leaders to resign.
“I think this mission was a catastrophe”
For critics of the Biden administration, it might have represented a satisfying moment of clarity after Pentagon officials spent hours dodging questions.
Milley and Austin stuck closely to President Joe Biden’s talking points, painting the evacuation, which led to a terrorist attack in Kabul that left 13 U.S. service members dead, as a “logistical success” despite the clear failures in the final days of the mission.
Hawley drilled down on perceived inconsistencies in Milley’s testimony, noting that he advised earlier this year that an imminent Taliban takeover was unlikely.
“General, I think you should resign,” the Missouri Republican said. “Secretary Austin, I think you should resign. I think this mission was a catastrophe. I think there’s no other way to say it and there has to be accountability. I respectfully submit it should be given to you.”
“Incredible political defiance”
For his part, Milley defended his actions in response to a question from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), asserting that it would be an act of “incredible political defiance” to step down in “protest” over Biden’s decision to ignore advice about keeping a remnant of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Josh Hawley tells General Milley and Defense Secretary Austin that they should resign to their faces. pic.twitter.com/n7W6qmBTxV
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) September 28, 2021
Of course, Milley’s supposed deference to the commander in chief might seem a tad ironic given the recent allegations that he actively sought to undermine former President Donald Trump’s military authority in the waning days of the last administration.
The general acknowledged that he spoke Bob Woodward, one of the authors of Peril, which includes the claim about his actions in the Trump administration.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) held a copy of the book when he admonished Milley, stating: “You seem to very happy failing up over there. But if we didn’t have a president that was so addled, you all would be fired because that is what you deserve.”