Chris Miller now says talk of a full withdrawal was a “play” to convince a Taliban-led government to keep U.S. counterterrorism forces.
President Donald Trump’s top national security officials never intended to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, according to new statements by Chris Miller, Trump’s last acting defense secretary.
Miller said the president’s public promise to finish withdrawing U.S. forces by May 1, as negotiated with the Taliban, was actually a “play” that masked the Trump administration’s true intentions: to convince Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to quit or accept a bitter power-sharing agreement with the Taliban, and to keep some U.S. troops in Afghanistan for counterrorism missions.
In a conversation this week with Defense One, Miller revealed that while serving as the top counterterrorism official on the National Security Council in 2019, he commissioned a wargame that determined that the United States could continue to conduct counterterrorism in Afghanistan with just 800 American military personnel on the ground. And by the end of 2020, when he was acting defense secretary, Miller asserted, many Trump administration officials expected that the United States would be able to broker a new shared government in Afghanistan composed primarily of Taliban officials. The new government would then permit U.S. forces to remain in country to support the Afghan military and fight terrorist elements.
That plan never happened, in part because Trump lost his reelection bid in November. And at least one other former senior Trump administration official questioned Miller’s retelling.[SNIP] Miller alleged that despite Trump’s frequent public pledges to end the Afghanistan war and bring home all U.S. troops, many senior national security officials in his administration believed a total withdrawal was not inevitable.
(Excerpt) Read more at defenseone.com …