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Matt Gaetz tells Milley and Austin they would be FIRED if Biden wasn’t so ‘addled’


Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz blasted the nation’s top military advisers on Wednesday, telling them they would all be fired for their performance in Afghanistan if President Biden wasn’t ‘so addled.’

He delivered his broadside during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan.

He accused the Pentagon’s senior figures of peddling a ‘big lie’ that the U.S. could rely on the Afghan government to keep the Taliban at bay and said Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was more interested in talking to authors than doing his job.  

‘But if we didn’t have a president that was so addled, you all would be fired, because that is what you deserve,’ he said. 

‘You have let down the people who wear the uniform in my district and all around this country, and you’re far more interested in what your perception is and how people think about you, and insider Washington books than you care about winning.’

It marked a second day of intense questions for Milley, Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of CentCom, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Matt Gaetz accused senior Pentagon figures of failing to do their jobs. ‘But if we didn’t have a president that was so addled, you all would be fired, because that is what you deserve,’ he said

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin responds to questions during a House hearing on the Afghanistan war, as he sits alongside Gen Mark Milley and Gen Frank McKenzie

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin responds to questions during a House hearing on the Afghanistan war, as he sits alongside Gen Mark Milley and Gen Frank McKenzie

A day earlier they appeared before senators to answer questions about the final days of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, how the administration had been taken by surprise at Kabul’s rapid collapse and whether the civilian evacuation should have been better planned.

On Wednesday, it was the turn of U.S. representatives to quiz them. 

Republican lawmakers repeatedly questioned Biden’s defense of his handling of the withdrawal, and attacked his judgment. 

Gaetz used his time to pour scorn on the senior officers’ efforts.

He waved a copy of ‘Peril,’ a new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, that claims Milley promised his China counterpart early warning of any impending attack as he criticized the officials of trying to burnish their own records.

‘It just seems like you’re chronically bad at this, and you have admitted that I guess which is to your credit,’ he said, reeling off a list of accusations that all three made massive misjudgments and that Milley had upended the chain of command.  

‘I believe that you guys probably won’t resign,’ he added. ‘You seem to be very happy failing up over there.’

Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson followed up the line of attack. 

He accused Milley of being too focused on book interviews and defending the Biden administration’s idea of a ‘woke’ military.

‘I submit to you sir, that you should resign because of your dereliction of duty to this country in your ability, your inability to do your job and protect this country,’ he said.

Milley chucked as he responded. He said: ‘I serve at the pleasure of the president, Mr. Jackson.’

The back and forth provided some of the most animated exchanges. But there was substance and depth to some of the earlier questioning as Biden’s Afghanistan policy came under deep scrutiny. 

Among the most striking moments was Milley admission for the first time that the U.S. war in Afghanistan had ended in defeat.

His comments stand in contrast to other administration officials have repeatedly claimed the conflict achieved its objective of degrading Al Qaeda in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and ensuring Afghanistan could not be used to launch attacks against the U.S. 

Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered a different view.

‘The war was a strategic failure,’ he said during his opening statement to the House Armed Services Committee.

He was later asked whether Biden’s decisions were to blame.

Milley answered by describing 20 years of missteps and saying for the first time that the war had been lost. 

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said for the first time that the U.S. 'lost' the war in Afghanistan after 20 years of mistakes and missteps as he delivered testimony to the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said for the first time that the U.S. ‘lost’ the war in Afghanistan after 20 years of mistakes and missteps as he delivered testimony to the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday

Taliban forces took control of Kabul on August 15 triggering a haphazard evacuation of foreign nationals and vulnerable Afghans from the city's airport

Taliban forces took control of Kabul on August 15 triggering a haphazard evacuation of foreign nationals and vulnerable Afghans from the city’s airport

‘There’s a whole series of decisions that take place over 20 years,’ he said.

‘I don’t think that when you ever you get some phenomena like a war that is lost – and it has been, in the sense of we accomplished our strategic task of protecting America against Al Qaeda, but certainly the end state is a whole lot different than what we wanted.’

His unvarnished assessment came during a second day of hearings on the administration’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal and weeks of scrutiny of Biden’s decision-making.

The president has been accused of ignoring advice to leave a small contingent behind to support a fragile government.

The end result is that the Taliban control the country just as they did when the U.S. went to war in 2001.

Milley also said the result would invigorate extremists all around the world.

‘I think the Taliban sitting in Kabul significantly emboldens the radical jihadi movement globally,’ he said.

‘The analogy I’ve used with many others, is it likely will put a shot of adrenaline into their arm.

‘Their grandfathers defeated the Soviet Union in the war in Afghanistan many, many years ago, and they are taking this on their own networks, right now, and declaring it a major victory, so I think it’s a big morale boost.’

Earlier, the top committee condemned President Biden as ‘delusional’ on Wednesday for claiming the U.S. exit from Afghanistan was a success.

Rep Mike Rogers said the exit came at the cost of 13 service members’ lives and left behind hundreds of American citizens.   

‘I fear the president may be delusional,’ he said. 

‘This wasn’t an extraordinary success; it was an extraordinary disaster.

‘It will go down in history as one of the greatest failures of American leadership.’

Administration officials have repeatedly said the end of the U.S. war and the civilian evacuation, airlifting 124,000 people to safety, were a logistical triumph.   

‘The extraordinary success of this mission was due to the incredible skill, bravery, and selfless courage of the United States military and our diplomats and intelligence professionals,’ said Biden at the end of August when the last U.S. troops had left.

On August 31 President Joe Biden declared the US troop withdrawal from Kabul  to be an 'extraordinary success' and blamed Donald Trump and local forces for the chaos

Republican Rep Mike Rogers said the president was delusional

On August 31 President Joe Biden declared the US troop withdrawal from Kabul to be an ‘extraordinary success.’ On Wednesday, during a congressional hearing, Republican Rep Mike Rogers said: ‘This wasn’t an extraordinary success; it was an extraordinary disaster.

Chaotic scenes at Kabul airport, as foreign nationals sought escape and desperate Afghans pleaded for help, dominated the final days of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan

Chaotic scenes at Kabul airport, as foreign nationals sought escape and desperate Afghans pleaded for help, dominated the final days of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan

But the episode has severely tested Biden’s claim to be a foreign policy expert.

His approval ratings collapsed amid images of Afghans clinging to U.S. transport planes as they desperately sought to escape their new Taliban rulers. 

A suicide blast killed 13 U.S. service personnel and 169 Afghans in the last days of the chaotic evacuation. Days later a drone strike killed 10 civilians despite U.S. claims the missile targeted terrorists in the final stages of launching an attack. 

Rogers said he wanted answers from Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Frank McKenzie, head of Central Command, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on their future Afghan strategy to prevent the country becoming another springboard for attacks on the U.S.

‘We want to know what capabilities we need, where they’ll be based, and how they’ll be used,’ he said.

‘In other words, we want to see the plan and we want to see it today.

‘Because frankly, after this debacle of a withdrawal, I don’t think anyone can trust what this President says about Afghanistan.’

The hearing came during intense scrutiny of President Biden’s handling of the Afghan withdrawal.  

Austin defended the decision to leave Afghanistan. He declined to discuss the advice he gave the president but said there was no ‘risk-free status quo’ option. 

‘I think that the Taliban had been clear if we stayed there longer, they were going to recommence attacks on our forces,’ he said.

‘I think while it’s conceivable that you could stay there, my view is that you would have had to deploy more forces in order to protect ourselves and accomplish any missions we would have been assigned.’

Later in the hearing, Austin said he could not rule out having to send troops back into Afghanistan.

‘I would just say that obviously that’s a decision that has to be made by the president,’ he said. 

‘While I won’t rule anything out, I would just say it’s not preordained that we will go back or have to go back into Afghanistan again. 

‘But if we do, the military will provide good, credible options to be able to do that and to be effective.’ 

A day earlier, senators heard from the nation’s top generals and defense secretary that Biden had been warned that pulling out all troops would lead to the collapse of the Kabul government.

Their testimony prompted Republicans to accuse Biden of lying during an August interview when he said he had heard no such advice. 

Milley declined to describe his advice to the president.

However, he said his personal opinion was that a minimum of 2,500 U.S. troops were needed to prevent a collapse of the Kabul government. 

On Tuesday Gen. Frank McKenzie, who as head of Central Command oversaw the final days of the U.S. war, said he shared Milley’s view a residual force was needed to prevent a Taliban takeover.

‘I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, and I also recommended early in the fall of 2020 that we maintain 4,500 at that time, those were my personal views,’ McKenzie said. 

‘I also had a view that the withdrawal of those forces would lead inevitably to the collapse of the Afghan military forces and eventually the Afghan government.’



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