Top US general has ‘lots of regrets’ on how conflict in Afghanistan ended

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said this week that he has “lots of regrets” about how America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan ended and “in the broader sense, the war was lost.”

In an interview with ABC News “This Week”, that will air Sunday, Milley, who is retiring at the end of September, acknowledged the chaos that unfolded as the US withdrew its troops.

“It didn’t end the way I wanted it. That didn’t end the way any of us wanted it,” Milley said. “Look, at — when the enemy is occupying your capital … that’s a strategic setback, strategic failure. That’s what I testified to in public. And there’s no way you can describe that as a strategic success.”

However, Milley also pointed to successes during the withdrawal, calling the evacuation “an amazing logistical feat.”

“It exceeds that which came out of Vietnam during Operation Whirlwind,” he said. “And those people are free today because of the courage and the bravery of all of those that were on the ground at the airport.”

But, in the broader sense, he said, “the war was lost. We were fighting the Taliban and their allies for 20-plus years. And they prevailed in that capital for a lot of reasons that we don’t have time to go over today. But, sure, lots of regrets by a lot of us from, from 9/11 on.”

As stated by ABC, other Biden administration officials have challenged the view that the withdrawal was in disarray or mishandled. White House national security spokesman John Kirby said in April: “For all this talk of chaos, I just didn’t see it, not from my perch.” And Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Congress in March that he had “no regrets.”

“Wars aren’t lost in the last 10 days or 10 months. Typically, they’re the cumulative effect of lots of turns and twists over many, many years,” Milley told ABC. “And this war, when the final history is written, will prove to be the same. Lots of lessons learned. Lots of lefts when you should have gone right. And that’ll all come out in due time. But lots of regrets, absolutely, 100%. Every single soldier I lost is a regret,” he said.