Gen. Milley Testifies America’s Credibility Is ‘Damaged,’ but Secretary Austin Disagrees

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (C), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley (L) and Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie (R) testify during a hearing before Senate Armed Services Committee at Dirksen Senate Office Building September 28, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, …
Alex Wong/Getty Images

America’s credibility on the world stage is “damaged” due to the deadly Afghan evacuation, Gen. Mark Milley testified during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday. But Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin disagreed with Milley, claiming America’s credibility “remains solid.”

“I think ‘damaged’ is one word that could be used, yes,” Milley said, when asked if America’s credibility is damaged.

But in the same hearing, Austin gave a different answer. “I think our credibility remains solid,” said Austin when he was asked a similar question.

The contrast in answers seems to indicate that Milley is alienated from President Biden and his administration, which includes Austin.

Austin also threw Milley under the bus by suggesting military leaders were surprised how fast the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, left, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, tours the African Americans in Defense of our Nations Corridor at the Pentagon, February 10, 2021, in Washington, DC. – Harris and Biden are visiting the Pentagon for the first time since taking office. (Photo by ALEX BRANDON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“We helped build a state, Mr Chairman, but we could not forge a nation,” Austin said. “The fact that the Afghan army that we and our partners trained simply melted away – in many cases without firing a shot – took us all by surprise. And it would be dishonest to claim otherwise.”

Milley also took heat from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who asked the general why he had not resigned yet. “General Milley, I can only conclude that your advice about staying in Afghanistan was rejected,” Cotton began about Biden not seeking Milley’s advice.

“I’m shocked to learn that your advice wasn’t sought until August 25th on staying past the August 31 deadline. I understand that you’re the principal military adviser, but you don’t decide, the president decides, but if all this is true, General Milley, why haven’t you resigned?” Cotton asked.

“Senator, as a senior military officer, resigning is a really serious thing. It’s a political act if I’m resigning in protest,” said Milley. “I’m not going to resign. If the orders were illegal, that’s different. But if they’re legal from a civilian authority, I intend to carry them out.”

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø

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