North Korea says it fired anti-aircraft missile, 4th recent test

North Korea says it fired anti-aircraft missile, 4th recent test

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This photo provided on Oct. 1, 2021, by the North Korean government shows what North Korea claims to be the test firing of a newly developed anti-aircraft missile in North Korea, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. Independent journalists were not given … more >

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By Hyung-jin Kim

Associated Press

Friday, October 1, 2021

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Friday it test-fired a new anti-aircraft missile, the fourth weapons launch in recent weeks that experts say is part of a strategy to win relief from sanctions and other concessions.

South Korea, Japan and the United States typically publicly confirm North Korean ballistic missile launches, which are banned by U.N. resolutions, soon after they occur. But they did not do so for Thursday’s, indicating the weapon tested may have been a different kind. Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday that South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities monitored moves by North Korea but didn’t elaborate.

Three weeks ago, North Korea resumed missile tests after a six-month lull. As it has sometimes done before, the North combined the show of force with a more conciliatory gesture, offering earlier this week to reactivate hotlines that North and South Korea use to set up meetings, arrange border crossings and avoid accidental clashes.

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Diplomacy aimed at getting the North to abandon its nuclear arsenal in return for economic and political rewards has largely been deadlocked since early 2019. That has left North Korea under crippling U.S.-led economic sanctions, at a time when its fragile economy is suffering massive setbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic. The North’s latest moves appear aimed at pressuring South Korea, which wants to improve strained ties on the peninsula, to persuade the U.S. to relax the sanctions.

On Friday, the Korean Central News Agency said the anti-aircraft missile test was “of very practical significance in studying and developing various prospective anti-aircraft missile system.”

Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said the launch appears to be the primitive stage of a test to develop a missile designed to shoot down incoming enemy missiles and aircraft. He said the missile resembles the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, which he said has a maximum range of 400 kilometers (250 miles) and is reportedly capable of intercepting stealth jets.

Earlier this week, in his government’s latest mixed signal, North Korea leader Kim Jong-un expressed his willingness to restore the communication hotlines with South Korea in the coming days, but he also shrugged off U.S. offers for dialogue as a “cunning” concealment of its hostility against the North. He also insisted that South Korea abandon its “double-dealing attitude” if it wants to see an improvement in Korean relations. His comments largely echoed demands from his powerful sister, who has taken the lead in the North’s ongoing pressure campaign.

South Korea has said it would prepare for the restoration of the cross-border phone and fax lines, which have been largely dormant for more than a year. But as of Friday afternoon, North Korea remained unresponsive to South Korea‘s attempt to exchange messages through the channels, according to Seoul’s Unifications Ministry.

During the Armed Forces Day ceremony on Friday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in vowed to repel any attempt to threaten his people’s lives and would strive to achieve lasting peace. But he didn’t mention North Korea’s recent tests in a possible effort to keep alive the possibility of talks between the Koreas.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters Thursday that Washington “certainly supports” inter-Korean dialogue in principle. But he said the U.S. was concerned about North Korea’s recent launches, which he noted were in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and created “greater prospects for instability and insecurity.”

U.N. resolutions ban any ballistic activity by North Korea.

Among the weapons North Korea tested in September were a new hypersonic missile, a newly developed cruise missile and a ballistic missile launched from a train. South Korea’s military assessed the hypersonic missile to be at an early stage of development, but experts say the other weapons launched displayed the North’s ability to attack targets in South Korea and Japan, key U.S. allies that host American troops. Earlier this week, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said its commitment to the defense of South Korea and Japan “remains ironclad.”

North Korea has not tested a long-range missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland for about four years – what experts see as an indication it is carefully calibrating its provocations to keep alive its chances for diplomacy.

___

Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

Top generals: Terrorists could take root in Afghanistan in less than a year

Top generals: Terrorists could take root in Afghanistan in less than a year

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From left, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of the United States Central Command testify during the House Armed Services Committee on the conclusion of military operations … more >

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By Joseph Clark

The Washington Times

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told lawmakers Wednesday that terrorist organizations could regain footing in Afghanistan in as soon as six months leaving some lawmakers concerned that the war there is not over.

The remarks by Gen. Mark Milley came amid two consecutive days of contentious testimony before House and Senate panels escalated into heated flareups among lawmakers and calls for the Pentagon’s top brass to resign.

“I think right now, right this minute we are safer because of the efforts over the last 20 years,” Gen. Milley told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. “However, I do think that conditions are more likely than not to develop over the course of time that will allow for the reconstitution of al Qaeda and/or ISIS.”

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“And that time varies depending on which analyst you’re listening to, but some time between say six to 12 and maybe 36 months,” he said.

Gen. Milley’s testimony came in hearing along with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, head of the U.S. Central Command.

Gen. McKenzie echoed the need for the U.S. to remain vigilant.

“The war on terror is not over, and the war in Afghanistan is not over either,” he said.

Neither general predicted a return of U.S. troops to Afghanistan in the near future, but their warnings compounded fears by some lawmakers that the U.S. ceded Afghanistan prematurely as the war on terrorism continues to rage.

Of particular concern for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle is whether the U.S. maintains a capability to combat terrorism in Afghanistan without boots on the ground.

The Biden administration has lauded its over-the-horizon counter-terrorism strategy, but with no military footprint and degraded intelligence capabilities in Afghanistan and the closest airbase from which to fly unmanned intelligence aircraft hours away, lawmakers were skeptical of the strategy.

Gen. Milley conceded in his testimony that the withdrawal damages the ability to confront potential terrorist threats in the region.

“I think the ends are going to remain the same to protect the American people, but I think the ways and means are going to change,” he said. “I think it is going to become much more difficult now to conduct counterterrorism operations against a reconstituted al Qaeda or ISIS in Afghanistan. Not impossible … but it will be more difficult.”

Rep. Mike Waltz, Florida Republican and a former Army Green Beret, became incensed by the strategy during his questioning and predicted the U.S. would be forced to return to Afghanistan sooner or later, drawing parallels with the U.S. return to Iraq to fight Islamic State after its 2011 withdrawal.

“I appreciate your candor with how difficult this is going to be. But the president of the United States is selling this country a fiction,” Mr. Waltz said.

“I am just livid at the fact, of the future Americans, that are going to have to go back to clean up this mess,” Mr. Waltz said.

Republicans seized on Wednesday’s testimony as another misalignment between the Pentagon and the White House contrasting Gen. McKenzie’s statement about the continuation of the war in Afghanistan with President Biden’s assertion on Aug. 31 that “the war in Afghanistan is now over.”

Wednesday’s testimony followed revelations Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee that Gen. Milley and Gen. McKenzie both advised keeping at least 2,500 troops in Afghanistan and had privately advised the White House of their opposition to a full withdrawal.

Their statements seemed to contradict Mr. Biden’s claims in an August interview that Pentagon brass was on board with his Aug. 31 exit date, and led to a bitter partisan divide at Wednesday’s hearing.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith defended President Biden’s decision to end the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan, telling the Pentagon’s top leadership the generals were “wrong” to keep U.S. troops in-country.

He also took aim at Republicans for their claims that Tuesday’s remarks were proof that Mr. Biden had misled the public in an August press interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

“This has been the subject of a huge misunderstanding in the last 24 hours and that, again, I find very, very disingenuous,” Mr. Smith said in his opening statement Wednesday.

But Mr. Smith’s comments did little to assuage Republicans, several of whom continued to raise the issue throughout the hearing.

“What President Biden said is we’re done,” Mr. Smith said in a heated argument partway through the hearing in response to continued Republican digs at the president. “We’re not going to have these hearings anymore. We’re not going to have the funerals anymore. We’re not going to lose the service members fighting a war that it is clear we cannot be successful.”

“We all pick nits with this decision, with that decision, why didn’t you say this, why didn’t you do that. Twenty years of a whole lot of people have led us to this point. And we said we’re going to stop,” he said.

While Republicans were quite galvanized in their criticism of Mr. Biden for the withdrawal, they were split in their criticism of the Pentagon.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Missouri Republican, chided Gen. Milley over the calls to his Chinese counterpart telling the general that the call was “worthy of your resignation.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, urged all three leaders to resign over the botched Afghanistan withdrawal.

“You have let down the people that wear the uniform in my district and all around this country,” he said. “You’re far more interested in what your perception is and how people think about you in insider Washington books than you care about winning which this group seems incapable of doing.”

But other Republicans apologized for their colleague’s remarks.

“For any member of this committee, for any American to question your loyalty to our nation, to question your understanding of our Constitution, your loyalty to our Constitution, your recognition and understanding of the civilian chain of command, is despicable,” said Rep. Liz Cheney, Wyoming Republican.

Wednesday’s hearing concludes the first round of testimony from Pentagon leadership on Afghanistan, though several members of the House panel have requested a closed hearing.

The Senate committee will hear testimony from outside national security experts on the withdrawal Thursday.

Military brass dodge blowback, consequences from Afghanistan withdrawal debacle

Military brass dodge blowback, consequences from Afghanistan withdrawal debacle

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From left, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of the United States Central Command testify during the House Armed Services Committee on the conclusion of military operations … more >

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By Ben Wolfgang, Ben Wolfang and Guy Taylor

The Washington Times

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Britain’s foreign secretary faced a severe demotion. The Dutch defense minister resigned.

But in Washington, six weeks after the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan sparked a rapid Taliban takeover, there have been no firings or high-level resignations, nor have any key figures faced true accountability for a series of deadly mistakes that raised serious questions about America’s foreign policy competence.

Top Defense Department officials appeared before Congress for a second time Wednesday in what essentially amounted to two straight days of political theater, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley and other military officials batting down calls for their resignations and seeking to downplay obvious disagreements with President Biden over whether to leave troops in Afghanistan

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So far, the fallout from the disastrous exit has amounted to little more than responsibility-dodging by some officials and stunning assertions from others that the U.S.-led pullout was actually in many ways a success.

That lack of accountability sparked anger in some military quarters, with a host of retired officers calling for top officials to resign and at least one Marine Corps battalion commander issuing a fiery condemnation of the Afghan withdrawal that ultimately led to his dismissal.

While some lawmakers have called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken and even Mr. Biden himself to resign, most of the outrage has centered on Mr. Austin and Gen. Milley. Both men have made clear during two days of congressional testimony that they advised the president to scrap his arbitrary withdrawal timeline and adopt a conditions-based approach that would have kept at least 2,500 U.S. personnel in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future.

But some lawmakers argue they should have resigned in protest when the president brushed aside that advice. Other critics say they should step down for failing to have in place a better plan to evacuate American diplomats, Afghan translators, and other non-military personnel in the event the Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban took control of Kabul. Such a scenario became reality on Aug. 15 and the U.S. military spent the next two weeks dependent on the Taliban for security at the overwhelmed Kabul airport. Thirteen American service members were killed during an Aug. 26 terrorist attack at that facility.

Top Pentagon officials have stressed that no one anticipated such a rapid collapse of the Afghan government and the subsequent chaos. Outraged members of Congress say that’s no excuse and called on both Gen. Milley and Mr. Austin to step down.

“General, I think you should resign. Secretary Austin, I think you should resign. I think this mission was a catastrophe. I think there is no other way to say it and there has to be accountability,” Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, said at Tuesday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. “I respectfully submit it should begin with you. “

Political appointees at the Pentagon have in the past argued that leading military officers should resign when faced with orders they don’t support. In 2018, for example, then-Defense Secretary James Mattis stepped down after former President Trump ordered an abrupt withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Syria.

Current Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, then a commentator for CNN, praised the decision.

“Secretary of Defense James Mattis submitted his resignation on Thursday. It was an honorable thing to do. But it wasn’t much of a choice. He did exactly what military tradition demands when one can’t ethically or morally support the boss anymore,” Mr. Kirby wrote in December 2018. “It’s a wonder, quite frankly, that it took this long. It’s arguably one of the worst kept secrets in town that Mattis has not been aligned with Trump on many policy issues.”

 

‘Not going to resign’

It’s clear there was a similar deep disagreement between the top military brass and Mr. Biden over the Afghanistan decision. Gen. Milley and Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, have said repeatedly this week that they advised against the withdrawal.

Critics believe the officers should have followed Mr. Kirby’s advice and stepped aside.

“Gen. Milley, I can only conclude that your advice about staying in Afghanistan was rejected. … I understand that you’re the principal military advisor, that you advise, you don’t decide. The president decides. But if all this is true, Gen. Milley, why haven’t you resigned?” asked Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican.

Gen. Milley offered a fiery response.

“It would be an incredible act of political defiance for a commissioned officer to just resign because my advice was not taken,” he said. “This country does not want generals figuring out what orders we are going to accept and do or not. That’s not our job.”

“I’m not going to resign,” he said. “There’s no way. If the orders are illegal, we’re in a different place. But if the orders are legal from civilian authority, I intend to carry them out.”

Gen. Milley, Gen. McKenzie and other military officials also suffered intense criticism for an Aug. 29 drone strike in Kabul that supposedly targeted an ISIS-K suicide bomber driving a car filled with explosives to the Kabul airport. The strike actually killed an aid worker, along with nine others, including seven children.

The incident raised serious questions about the Biden administration’s insistence it can conduct “over-the-horizon” strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, similar waves of outrage in other nations have led to high-profile resignations or reassignments.

On Sept. 17, Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld quit her post after parliament passed a motion to censure her over the Afghan withdrawal. In Britain, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was reassigned and effectively demoted to a position in the U.K.’s Justice Department. Mr. Raab faced intense criticism for his handling of the British exit from Afghanistan.

In the U.S., at least one officer was removed from his position after publicly calling for Pentagon leaders to take responsibility for the botched withdrawal.

“People are upset because their senior leaders let them down and none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability or saying, ‘We messed this up,’” Marine Corps Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller said in an emotional Facebook video on Aug. 28, specifically questioning the U.S. decision to give up the Bagram Air Base north of Kabul before the evacuation was complete.

“I’m not saying we’ve got to be in Afghanistan forever,” he said. “But I am saying: Did any of you throw your rank on the table and say, ‘Hey, it’s a bad idea to evacuate Bagram airfield, a strategic air base, before we evacuate everyone?’ Did anyone do that? And when you didn’t think to do that, did anyone raise their hand and say, ‘We completely messed this up?’”

He was relieved of his post shortly after the video was released. Lt. Col. Scheller reportedly is awaiting a military court proceeding to determine if he will face formal charges for his comments.

Pentagon officials deny that it made sense to hold on to Bagram.

“Retaining Bagram would have required putting as many as 5,000 U.S. troops in harm’s way just to operate and defend it, and it would have contributed little to the mission,” Mr. Austin told lawmakers this week. “The distance from Kabul also rendered Bagram of little value during the evacuation.”

Strategic failure — perfectly executed

Strategic Failure — Perfectly Executed

General Milley blames President Biden for Afghan Catastrophe

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley listens to a Senator’s question during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, … more >

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By Charles Hurt


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Well, now we know why there was no plan to evacuate Afghanistan after 20 years without abandoning thousands of American citizens and allies on the battlefield, killing 13 U.S. troops, and surrendering $80 billion worth of American military equipment to our terrorist enemy.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley was too busy to come up with one. He was too busy leaking to a raft of Washington reporters who spent the past year digging up dirt for the library of rabidly anti-Trump books they were writing.

Indeed, loose lips really do sink ships.

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It was a moment of stunning honesty during Tuesday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican, ordered Gen. Milley to provide simple “yes” or “no” answers to her questions in hopes that he might quit all the dodging and weaving he had been doing all morning about the disastrous collapse of Kabul.

“‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to this — Did you talk to Bob Woodward or Robert Costa for their book, Peril?”

“Woodward, yes. Costa, no.”

“Did you talk to Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker for their book, I Alone Can Fix It?”

“Yes.”

“Did you talk to Michael Bender for his book, Frankly We Did Win This Election — The Inside Story of How Trump Lost — yes or no?”

“Yes.”

But all honesty ended right there. Mrs. Blackburn then asked Gen. Milley if he was accurately portrayed in the books, and he went back to dodging.

“I haven’t read any of the books, so I don’t know,” he replied.

Yes or no question: Does Mark Milley strike you as the kind of guy who talks to reporters about himself but doesn’t look to see what they wrote about him

Um, no.

In a modest town like Washington, everybody starts books at the very end — searching the index for their own name. And Gen. Milley is a perfect creature of Washington. Whether he is fashionably flogging himself for the television cameras over “white rage” or dodging blame for losing every war he ever touched, Gen. Milley is a Swamp Creature from central casting.

Before Mrs. Blackburn opened up a can of Straight Talk on him, Gen. Milley was busy telling everyone what a huge “success” the Afghanistan retreat really was.

The only unpleasantness you might have noticed — i.e., bodies falling from the sky, dead U.S. troops, women beaten to death for not cooking proper meals for the Taliban — were all just the result of “strategic failure.” In other words, the commander-in-chief’s fault.

“Strategic decisions have strategic consequences,” he said flippantly.

 Oh yes, strategic failure — perfectly executed. 

In other words, the bodies of Afghan civilians clinging to landing gear landed right on target. Troops signed up to die. And that lady who refused to cook for the Taliban? She had it coming.

Gen. Milley spent the entire hearing hilariously refusing to discuss his discussions with President Biden while at the very same time explaining what his advice was so as to blame the whole fiasco entirely on Mr. Biden.

By the time the game of rope-a-dope was over, Gen. Milley was openly admitting that Mr. Biden — whose secret discussions could not be revealed — had entirely ignored his advice, which of course was to stay in Afghanistan until the return of Jesus Christ or Mohammed or Greta Thunberg. (We strive to be open-minded, non-denominational, and inclusive here at the Nuclear Option.)

“The president doesn’t have to agree with that advice,” the general explained as he backed away from the steaming pile of blame he just dumped on Mr. Biden.

“He doesn’t have to make those decisions just because we are generals. And it would be an incredible act of political defiance for a commissioned officer to resign just because my advice was not taken.”

Oh my. Such a brave hero.

Mark Milley is the reincarnation of Gen. Douglas MacArthur — minus all the victories.

• Charles Hurt is the opinion editor at the Washington Times.

Gen. Milley defends calls to Chinese: ‘I was certain’ Trump wouldn’t order attack

Gen. Milley defends calls to Chinese: ‘I was certain’ Trump wouldn’t order attack

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, on Capitol Hill in … more >

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By Ben Wolfgang

The Washington Times

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

America’s top general on Tuesday vehemently defended his Jan. 8 phone call with Chinese military leaders, telling lawmakers that he was “certain” then-President Donald Trump wouldn’t order an attack on Beijing and wanted to convey that reassuring message to his Chinese counterparts.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, pushed back on the narrative that he went around Mr. Trump out of fear the president might order an attack on China during his final days in office.

Some Republicans have called for Gen. Milley‘s resignation, accusing him of trying to circumvent civilian leadership of the military by having such discussions.

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But Gen. Milley pushed back hard on those attacks.

“I am specifically directed to communicate with the Chinese by Department of Defense guidance,” he said. “These military-to-military communications at the highest level are critical for the security of the United States in order to deconflict military actions, manage crises and prevent war between great powers that are armed with the world’s most dangerous weapons.”

Gen. Milley specifically addressed two calls with Chinese Gen. Li Zuocheng, the first on Oct. 30 and the second on Jan. 8, two days after pro-Trump supporters had stormed the U.S. Capitol.

“The specific purpose of the October and January calls were generated by concerning intelligence which caused us to believe that the Chinese were worried about an attack on them by the United States,” he said. “I know, I am certain, President Trump did not intend to attack the Chinese, and it was my direct responsibility to convey that intent to the Chinese. My task at that time was to de-escalate. My message, again, was consistent: ‘Stay calm, steady, de-escalate. We are not going to attack you.’”

The calls were revealed in a recent book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

The book includes a claim that Gen. Milley was so worried about Mr. Trump‘s mental state that he assembled top military leaders and advised them not to launch a nuclear strike — even if it was directly ordered by Mr. Trump — unless he was there.

Gen. Milley also had a conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about Mr. Trump‘s mental state following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to the book.

Gen. Mark Milley, the U.S. top military officer, meets with Russian counterpart

Top U.S. Gen. Milley meets with Russian counterpart on post-Afghanistan path

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In this Sept. 1, 2021, file photo, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley speaks during a briefing with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon in Washington. The top U.S. military officer met with … more >

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By Mike Glenn

The Washington Times

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

America’s top military officer on Wednesday with his Russian counterpart in Finland even as U.S. officials struggle to secure basing rights from former Soviet countries bordering Afghanistan for a regional anti-terrorism campaign now that the Taliban are in charge in Kabul.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley met with Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the Russian General Staff, in Helsinki to discuss “regional conflicts, strategic stability, and other operational and strategic issues,” according to Col. David Butler, spokesman for the Joint Staff.

“The meeting was a continuation of talks aimed at improving military leadership communication between the two nations for the purposes of risk reduction and operational de-confliction,” Col. Butler said in a statement.

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In accordance with past practice, both military leaders kept the specific details of the conversation private, Col. Butler said.

Following the abrupt U.S. pullout from Afghanistan ordered by President Biden, Pentagon officials have said they will continue to maintain a “robust over-the-horizon” military capability to monitor events in the country now fully under the control of hardline Taliban fighters. But, that goal is contingent on the ability to launch U.S. assets from nearby bases and Moscow is putting obstacles in the way.

Russia told the U.S. not to deploy troops to the former Soviet Central Asian nations following its exit from Afghanistan.

“We told the Americans in a direct and straightforward way that it would change a lot of things not only in our perceptions of what’s going on in that important region but also in our relations with the United States,” said Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, according to the AP. “We also have had a frank talk on the subject with our Central Asian allies, neighbors and friends and also other countries in the region that would be directly affected.”

Gen. Milley‘s meeting with his Russian counterpart also comes amid swirling controversy over revelations about his actions in the final days of the Trump administration. The Russian Defense Ministry in a statement characterized Wednesday’s talks as “constructive.”

‘Lessons to be learned’ for Pentagon after chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal, top general says

‘Lessons to be learned’ for Pentagon after chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal, top general says

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Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, right, answers a question during a briefing with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, at the Pentagon in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, about the end of the war in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Susan … more >

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By Ben Wolfgang

The Washington Times

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The nation’s top general said Wednesday that there are “lessons to be learned” from a rushed, chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan that ultimately left more than 100 Americans stranded in a country now controlled by the Taliban.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted to personal “pain and anger” as the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan came to an end after 20 years. But from a purely tactical perspective, he said, there remain many outstanding questions.

“We’re going to learn from this experience as a military. How we got to this moment in Afghanistan will be analyzed and studied for years to come. And we in the military will approach this with humility, transparency and candor,” he said. “There are many tactical, operational and strategic lessons to be learned.”

SEE ALSO: Defense Department is holding 20,000 evacuated Afghans in U.S., 23,000 more in Europe

Gen. Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin have faced growing calls to resign for their roles in the U.S. exit from Afghanistan. Specifically, critics have taken aim at several key decisions made by the Pentagon, including the closing of Bagram Air Base months before the American military withdrawal was complete.

That decision left Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul as the only facility from which tens of thousands of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies could escape the country, which came back under the control of the Taliban on Aug. 15.

The two military leaders also have taken heat for seemingly failing to plan for a scenario in which the U.S.-backed Afghan government collapsed in a matter of days and American troops and diplomats had to evacuate the country immediately.

And the Defense Department has faced withering criticism as photos and video have surfaced showing Taliban fighters now equipped with cutting-edge American vehicles, weapons and other equipment left behind during the frantic withdrawal.

Mr. Austin seemed to concede some parts of the mission could have been handled differently.

“There hasn’t been a single operation that I’ve ever been involved in where we didn’t discover something we could have done better or more efficiently or more effectively,” he told reporters. “No operation is ever perfect.”

Trump calls for Biden apology, Pentagon brass to resign over Afghanistan

Trump calls for Biden apology, Pentagon brass to resign over Afghanistan

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In this July 11, 2021, file photo, former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File) more >

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By Joseph Clark

The Washington Times

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday demanded his successor apologize for the disastrous U.S. exit from Afghanistan.

He said that President Biden handed the Taliban “a country on a silver platter.”

“I think the best thing he can do is apologize to the American people and apologize to the world,” Mr. Trump said on Fox Business Network’s “Varney & Company.” “He ought to apologize and stop trying to, excuse the language, bull— everybody into thinking that what he did was good.”

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Mr. Trump also said the military was “humiliated” by the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and added his voice to scores of former military leaders calling for the resignations of Pentagon top brass.

“That withdrawal was an absolute humiliation of the United States of America and the admirals and generals are right,” he said. “And more than that should resign.”

His comments followed an open letter signed by nearly 90 retired generals and other military figures demanding Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark A. Milley to resign for “negligence in performing their duties.”

“I think that’s absolutely correct,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the latter.

Mr. Trump said the buck stops with Mr. Biden, who has said Mr. Trump’s pullout deal with the Taliban set the stage for the chaos leading up to the final exit of U.S. troops from Kabul on Monday.

“I’m a person that wanted to get out,” he said Tuesday. “But I’m also a person that says, ‘Go back and get the damn equipment. Go back and bomb the hell out of it. Do one thing or another.’”

Mr. Biden did not brief the public Monday after the withdrawal was completed. The White House issued a statement thanking commanders and service members on the ground and remembering the 13 service members killed in last week’s suicide attack targeting the airport in Kabul. Mr. Biden is expected to make a public address later Tuesday.

Trump launches broadside against Milley over ‘coup’ reports

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, at podium, speaks during a ceremony marking full operation of the NATO’s Joint Force Command aboard the USS Kearsarge at Naval Station Norfolk, Thursday , July 15, 2021, in Norfolk, … more >

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By Mike Glenn

The Washington Times

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Former President Trump launched an extraordinary broadside against the general he named to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff, denying a new book’s reports that a “coup” was being discussed in the wake of the 2020 presidential election and saying he would not have wanted Gen. Mark Milley at his side if he had been planning one.

While Gen. Milley remained mum on the swirling controversy sparked by the latest investigative book on the final days of Mr. Trump‘s presidency, Mr. Trump lashed out at the general, criticizing his comments regretting his actions the day Mr. Trump stood at a Washington church holding a Bible and the general’s backing for changing the name of military posts named for Confederate generals and Southern Civil War figures.

“Sorry to inform you, but an Election is my form of ‘coup,’” the former president said in a scathing statement released Thursday, “and if I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is General Mark Milley.”

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Mr. Trump said he only elevated the Army general to the post “because the world’s most overrated general, [then-Defense Secretary] James Mattis, could not stand him, had no respect for him, and would not recommend him. To me the fact that Mattis didn’t like him, just like Obama didn’t like him and actually fired Milley, was a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Mr. Trump also attacked the general’s expressed regrets over his presence as Mr. Trump walked to St. John’s Church near the White House last summer, in the face of tense street protests over racial justice.

Gen. Milley “apologized profusely, making it a big story, instead of saying ‘I am proud to walk with and protect the President of the United States.’ Had he said that, it would have all been over, no big deal, but I saw at that moment he had no courage or skill, certainly not the type of person I would be talking ‘coup’ with. I’m not into coups!”

The ex-president was responding to accounts of the soon-to-be-published “I Alone Can Fix It” by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. Leaked excerpts from the book do not say that Mr. Trump and Gen. Milley discussed a coup to block what Mr. Trump saw as a stolen election, but that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs expressed rising alarm to current and former government officials that Mr. Trump and his supporters were not preparing for a peaceful transition of power.

At points, the authors contend, Gen. Milley privately compared Mr. Trump and his backers to Nazi “brownshirts” who enabled Hitler’s rise and discussed how to keep the military and security agencies from being co-opted into Mr. Trump‘s challenge to the vote.

It was Mr. Trump‘s second public attack on the general in recent days. He said Gen. Milley should resign last month after reports leaked of a heated conversation between the two men in the Situation Room last year over the military’s role in dealing with heated and sometimes violent protests in American cities over racial injustice and police brutality.

Mr. Trump nominated Gen. Milley in December 2018 to replace retiring Gen. Joseph Dunford as head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Pentagon. “He’s a great gentleman, he’s a great patriot, he’s a great soldier. And I look forward to [his confirmation],” Mr. Trump said at the time.

On Thursday, Gen. Milley was in Norfolk talking of NATO and new strains on the international order. He stayed far away from the new book’s revelations and did not mention Mr. Trump or the post-election tensions.

The address in Norfolk announcing the full operational capability of NATO’s newest combat command was Gen. Milley‘s first public remarks since the revelations were aired this week.

But his remarks Thursday focused tightly on the new Navy-focused Joint Forces Command-Norfolk, the sole NATO joint command located on U.S. soil.

“It’s the mission of this command to fight the Battle of the Atlantic in the event of an armed conflict,” Gen. Milley said. “The survival of NATO — success or failure in combat in a future war in Europe — largely depends on the success or failure of this command.”

The U.S and its NATO allies should keep the focus on the future and adapt to new technologies of war, such as precision munitions and artificial intelligence, Gen. Milley said.

“The challenge is going to be in the not-too-distant future. We have to modernize,” he said.