CENTCOM Chief says he warned Biden 2,500 troops need to stay in Afghanistan
UPDATED 5:24 PM PT – Monday, September 27, 2021
Commander of the U.S. Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie contradicted Joe Biden’s account of the planning for the botched Afghan withdrawal. During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, McKenzie said he had told Biden 2,500 U.S. troops would need to remain in Afghanistan to help the Afghan government contain the Taliban’s operations.
“I will give you my honest opinion and my honest opinion and view shaped my recommendation,” he stated. “I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.”
Biden has previously claimed he could not recall such recommendations.
“I also have a view that a withdrawal of those forces would lead inevitably to the collapse of the Afghan military forces and eventually the Afghan government,” McKenzie expressed. “…Sir I was present when that discussion occurred and I’m confident that the president heard all of the recommendations and listened to them very thoughtfully.”
Last month, Joe Biden claimed that no military leader advised him to leave a small troop presence in Afghanistan.
Today, General Milley and General McKenzie both confirmed their recommendation that 2,500 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan.
Which is it? pic.twitter.com/3Tnw1a6V4q
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) September 28, 2021
General McKenzie also said he was advocating for keeping 4,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan during the planning stage of the withdrawal in the autumn of 2020. That number was in line with President Trump’s public statements on the then planned Afghan pullout.