December 4, 2022

Top Generals Say They Advised Keeping Troops in Afghanistan

The top U.S. Generals have spoken out against Biden’s recent comment about the Afghan war, saying they advised keeping troops in Afghanistan to prevent a resurgence of Taliban power. This is at odds with what Biden said on “Meet the Press” that he had been told by General McChrystal that it was time for us to leave Afghanistan because we couldn’t win there militarily.

Biden: “The military commander who was there said, ‘I’ve asked Mr. President … you cannot in good conscience send me more men to die for a mistake,'” Biden said of his meeting with Gen. Stanley McChrystal in July, when the Afghanistan strategy review was taking place at the White House.

He quoted McChrystal as saying, “‘I can’t guarantee you I can succeed with a restricted number of troops.'”

Biden said he “immediately went to the president,” and asked for a meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other administration officials from the State Department and other national security agencies. He said that group sat down with McChrystal to get the general’s “immediate unprompted response, and he said ‘I can do this’ if I had X number of troops,” Biden said.

Biden was speaking to reporters after attending a budget hearing on Afghanistan at which Gates discussed his earlier comments about what the top U.S. general in Afghanistan had told him about what it would take to succeed there.

“I have the greatest respect for Vice President Biden, but I fundamentally disagree with his characterization of my views and comments,” Gates said at a news conference on Thursday. “And I was disappointed by that.”

CNN’s Barbara Starr reports. Biden: “The military commander who was there said, ‘I’ve asked Mr. President . you cannot in good conscience send me more men to die for a mistake,'” Biden said of his meeting with Gen. Stanley McChrystal in July, when the Afghanistan strategy review was taking place at the White House.

“I immediately went to the president,” and asked for a meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other administration officials from the State Department and other national security agencies. He said that group sat down with McChrystal to get the general’s “immediate unprompted response, and he said ‘I can do this’ if I had X number of troops,” Biden said.

Biden was speaking to reporters after attending a budget hearing on Afghanistan at which Gates discussed his earlier comments about what the top U.S. general in Afghanistan had told him about what it would take to succeed there.

Gates: “I have the greatest respect for Vice President Biden, but I fundamentally disagree with his characterization of my views and comments,” Gates said at a news conference on Thursday. “And I was disappointed by that.”

Gates said he would not discuss specifics of his meeting with McChrystal, but the general has said publicly that more troops are needed.

“General McChrystal has made it very clear publicly what he believes he needs for success in Afghanistan,” Gates said Thursday. “That is additional forces.”

Biden’s office issued a statement on Thursday saying that his remarks about the McChrystal meeting had been taken out of context.

Obama: “Joe Biden has been one of my most valued advisers,” Obama said. “He’s a man who is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

The president also acknowledged there were different views with regard to the war in Afghanistan, but he “absolutely” believed McChrystal would get all that was necessary to carry out his mission.

Obama said Thursday that Gates had received a “very strong vote of support and confidence,” following Gates’ reported remarks at a NATO meeting in Brussels about what it would take to succeed in Afghanistan.

He added that the Defense secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen had both been “very clear that the strategy we’ve put in place is the right one.”

“The military commanders on the ground, including Stan McChrystal, have made it very clear that they’ve got what’s required for them to be successful,” Obama said.

When asked if he were committed to the war in Afghanistan, or if that commitment might change depending on how many troops were needed there, Obama also pointed to Gates and Mullen.

We don’t know what contingencies we may face,” the president said. But I want to be very clear: They have made very clear what is required for success, and if we can get those resources to them, then I am confident that they will succeed,” he said.

This is a big decision,” Obama later added. “It’s not one where you can simply decide I’m going to change my mind on a whim.