General Mark Milley criticized previous CENTCOM Commander Scottie Miller for abandoning Bagram Air Force Base, a major military base in Afghanistan, during their muddled and dismal press conference on the Afghanistan disaster on Wednesday and instead, US generals chose to conduct their operations through Kabul’s Karzai International Airport, which is now encircled by fighters of Taliban.
After that, Scottie Miller is expected to retire after he left the country in July. And there are still Americans in Afghanistan that remain stranded for about 10,000 to 20,000 people that during the Biden administration haste to abandon the country, they and the military elites, for some reason, forgot about them.
According to Bryan Preston of PJ Media:
Relevant to all this, Sen. Mitch McConnell says Biden overrode his military commanders when he decided how to withdraw from Afghanistan.
“If we were to keep both Bagram and the embassy going, that would be a significant number of military forces…that may have exceeded what we had, or stayed the same as what we had,” Milley continued. “So you had to collapse one or the other. And the decision was made, the proposal was made, from CENTCOM commander and the commander on the ground, Scottie Miller, to go ahead and collapse Bagram. That was all briefed and approved and we estimated that the risk of going out of KIA, or the risk of going out of Bagram, were about the same, so going out of KIA was the better tactical solution…in accordance with getting the troops down to a 600, 700 number.”
Who set that number and why? It’s a rhetorical question. We know the White House set that number.
I’ve written about why the choice to abandon Bagram makes little sense, at least from the other side of the world, from a tactical point of view. Bagram is more remote, but was also much more heavily armed and offered a second runway that HKIA does not have. It offered more space to house and feed evacuees. It’s a more defensible position. Using Bagram would have necessitated military armor convoys to make the hazardous trip from Kabul outward, but HKIA is proving to be unworkable so far. It’s surrounded by the Taliban and could itself fall to them. Austin does not deny that we are depending on the Taliban not attacking and overrunning HKIA right now, as it’s full of Americans and Afghans. About 5,000 to 6,000 American troops are currently defending it — roughly double the number of troops Biden withdrew.
NBC ran this story about Miller stepping down from command of U.S.-NATO forces on July 12.