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Military leaders defend Biden's handling of Afghanistan withdrawal

Austin and Milley are joined by the leader of US Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, who played an integral role in facilitating the evacuation from Kabul — an effort that has been the focus of immense bipartisan criticism since the last American military aircraft departed the Afghan capital.
Austin will defend the Biden administration’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, along with the decision-making throughout the planning and execution process, a senior defense official said.
He will also stress that President Joe Biden listened to the Defense Department’s views during interagency discussions in a normal, though somewhat accelerated decision-making process, the official added.
Appearing on Capitol Hill one day after visiting a military base that is housing thousands of Afghan evacuees, Austin will acknowledge some mistakes and shortcomings at the beginning of the evacuation, the official said, but will argue that the non-combatant evacuation operation was largely a success, pointing to the movement of 124,000 people in just over two weeks.
The Defense Secretary is also set to acknowledge the mistakes made in connection with the August 29 drone strike that killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children, said the official. Even so, he will defend the Pentagon’s plan to for “Over the Horizon” operations in which the military will carry out strikes in Afghanistan, when needed, from airfields outside the country.
Milley is also likely to be grilled about new reporting in “Peril,” a book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, which details the military leader’s phone conversations to reassure a nervous Chinese general and his efforts to limit then-President Donald Trump from potentially ordering a dangerous military strike.
Milley’s actions, which were reported by CNN and others earlier this month ahead of the book’s release, spawned sharp criticism from Trump and his allies, including calls for Milley’s resignation and that he be tried for treason.
This story is breaking and will be updated.

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