Trump defense secretary claims that pledge to exit Afghanistan was a negotiating tactic: Report

Trump defense secretary claims that pledge to exit Afghanistan was a negotiating tactic: Report
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Former President Donald Trump's last acting defense secretary, Chris Miller, claims the president never intended to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, according to a recent interview.

Miller said the former president's public initiative to finish withdrawing military forces out of the country by May 1, per negotiations with the Taliban, was actually a "play" that concealed the administration's intentions for the deal. The purpose was to convince Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to resign or agree to a hard-line power-sharing agreement with the militant Taliban and allow some U.S. troops to remain in the country for counterterrorism operations, the former acting defense secretary told Defense One.

While working as a top counterterrorism official on the National Security Council in 2019, Miller commissioned a wargame that found the U.S. could be persistent with its counterterrorism in Afghanistan with only 800 U.S. troops, he told the outlet.

Miller claimed that around the end of 2020, when he became acting defense secretary, many Trump administration officials anticipated the U.S. would be able to broker a shared government in Afghanistan made mostly of Taliban officials. The new government would then allow U.S. forces to remain in the country to combat terrorism and support the Afghan military.

'IT WAS PREORDAINED': STATE DEPARTMENT BLAMES TRUMP FOR US WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN

"We did plenty of wargames on this and we knew what the minimal force structure was," he said this week. "The number was 800. If this all goes bad, what is the minimal force structure needed to maintain [counterterrorism] strike and reconnaissance capability? We can do it for 800, 850."

Miller's account of the 800-personnel study was confirmed through a former NSC staff member, Defense One reported.

The plan did not happen after the former president lost his bid for reelection.

Miller pushed back against the claim that Trump is to blame for setting the field for the chaotic scenes witnessed in Kabul this week after the Taliban overtook the capital. He alleged that while Trump frequently promised to bring troops home and end the war in Afghanistan, many national security officials in his administration believed a total withdrawal did not have to be the only outcome.

President Joe Biden admitted on Monday that the fall of the government came "more quickly than we anticipated" but stood by his decision to end "America's war-fighting in Afghanistan."

The president added on Wednesday that he is committed to keeping troops in Afghanistan until every American is evacuated, even if it means beyond the Aug. 31 deadline for a complete withdrawal.

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The Department of Defense declined to comment on the matter to the Washington Examiner.

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Tags: News, Afghanistan, Defense, Military, Donald Trump, National Security

Original Author: Kaelan Deese

Original Location: Trump defense secretary claims that pledge to exit Afghanistan was a negotiating tactic: Report

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