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130 retired flag officers call for Austin, Milley to resign over Afghanistan withdrawal

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testify to the Senate Appropriations Committee, June 17, 2021. (DoD Photo by Chad J. McNeeley)
September 02, 2021

A letter released Monday calling for the resignation and retirement of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley for their role in the “disastrous withdrawal” of the United States forces in Afghanistan now has the support of 130 retired generals and admirals, increasing from around 90 earlier this week.  

Organized by the group Flag Officers 4 America, the veteran officers blasted the top military leaders for “negligence in performing their duties” surrounding President Joe Biden’s “disastrous” withdrawal that left 13 service members dead, as well as hundreds of Americans, and thousands of Afghan allies, stranded behind enemy lines amid the Taliban takeover.

“A fundamental principle in the military is holding those in charge responsible and accountable for their actions or inaction,” the group wrote in a press release. “There must be accountability at all levels for this tragic and avoidable debacle.”

In the letter, the veterans asserted that both Austin and Milley “should have recommended against this dangerous withdrawal in the strongest possible terms.”

“If they did not do everything within their authority to stop the hasty withdrawal, they should resign,” the letter stated. “Conversely, if they did do everything within their ability to persuade the CINC/President to not hastily exit the country without ensuring the safety of our citizens and Afghans loyal to America, then they should have resigned in protest as a matter of conscience and public statement.”

The group went on to say that the consequences of Biden’s “disaster” are “enormous” and will impact the United States for decades “beginning with the safety of Americans and Afghans who are unable to move safely to evacuation points; therefore, being de facto hostages of the Taliban at this time.”

“The death and torture of Afghans has already begun and will result in a human tragedy of major proportions. The loss of billions of dollars in advanced military equipment and supplies falling into the hands of our enemies is catastrophic,” the veterans wrote. “The damage to the reputation of the United States is indescribable. We are now seen, and will be seen for many years, as an unreliable partner in any multinational agreement or operation. Trust in the United States is irreparably damaged.”

The group claimed that America’s adversaries are now “emboldened” to work against America “due to the weakness displayed in Afghanistan,” adding that China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea all benefitted from the chaotic withdrawal.

“Terrorists around the world are emboldened and able to pass freely into our country

through our open border with Mexico,” the vets added, slamming Biden’s border policy that has led to over one million illegal immigrant encounters.

“Besides these military operational reasons for resignations, there are leadership, training, and morale reasons for resignations. In interviews, congressional testimony, and public statements it has become clear that top leaders in our military are placing mandatory emphasis on PC ‘wokeness’ related training which is extremely divisive and harmful to unit cohesion, readiness, and war fighting capability,” the letter continued. “Our military exists to fight and win our Nation’s wars and that must be the sole focus of our top military leaders.”

“For these reasons we call on the SECDEF Austin and the CJCS General Milley to resign. A fundamental principle in the military is holding those in charge responsible and accountable for their actions or inactions. There must be accountability at all levels for this tragic and avoidable debacle,” they concluded.