87 retired generals who endorsed a false conspiracy theory about the 2020 election call on Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley to resign over the Afghanistan withdrawal

Lloyd Austin Mark Milley
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, right, pictured in Maryland. Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images
  • A group of 87 retired generals on Monday called for Lloyd Austin's and Mark Milley's resignations.

  • They said Austin and Milley should have persuaded Biden not to make a swift exit from Afghanistan.

  • The same group had written a letter in May advancing a 2020 election conspiracy theory.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A group of 87 retired US military generals on Monday called for the resignations of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, over what they described as a "disastrous" withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The open letter was written by a group called Flag Officers 4 America, which describes itself as "retired U.S. generals and admirals defending the Constitution." The group had written another open letter in May appearing to advance a false conspiracy theory by questioning the results of the 2020 election and President Joe Biden's physical and mental health.

In the latest letter, the group said Milley and Austin showed "negligence in performing their duties" in the swift exit from Afghanistan, which left Americans and Afghans loyal to the US stranded in Afghanistan and "de facto hostages of the Taliban."

"A fundamental principle in the military is holding those in charge responsible and accountable for their actions or inactions," the letter said. "There must be accountability at all levels for this tragic and avoidable debacle."

Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, said on Monday that the US had evacuated more than 122,000 civilians from Afghanistan since the end of July. But thousands of Afghan allies and dozens of Americans remained stranded.

The group said Milley and Austin should have recommended against the swift exit and should have resigned in protest if they weren't able to convince Biden otherwise.

"As principal military advisors to the CINC/President, the SECDEF and CJCS should have recommended against this dangerous withdrawal in the strongest possible terms," the letter said. "If they did not do everything within their authority to stop the hasty withdrawal, they should resign.

"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 Department of Defense did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on the letter.

Milley has said there was a lack of intelligence indicating that Afghanistan would fall to the Taliban as fast as it did.

The letter went on to say that "the consequences of this disaster are enormous" and include "the death and torture of Afghans" and "indescribable" damage to America's reputation.

The group of generals also said it was "catastrophic" to have advanced military equipment falling into the hands of America's enemies. USA Today reported on Monday that the US likely left behind "tens of millions of dollars' worth of aircraft, armored vehicles and sophisticated defensive systems," some of which had been rendered inoperable.

McKenzie said on Monday that the US had permanently disabled over 150 vehicles and aircraft before leaving Kabul so they could not be used again.

The group also claimed that adversaries like China and Russia would be "emboldened to move against America due to the weakness displayed in Afghanistan" and that terrorists could "pass freely into our country" via the US-Mexico border.

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