However, it is not often that a point like Lt Col Scheller’s — that some of the most senior military leaders in charge are found wanting — is so quickly validated. Sec Def Llyod Austin, Chairman JCS Milley and CENTCOM’s General McKenzie make his point in their own words that they are not being held accountable. Nor apparently will they resign in disgrace by holding themselves accountable for the greatest military defeat in American battlefield history.
It is that simple. And special note to General Milley: invoking your dad on Iwo, my only uncle who I am named after also did not have the ability to resign because he was KIA on Iwo Jima, so enough with self-serving red hearings.
Americans who never served in the military have now finally observed what many in uniform have seen; there is one thing worse than an arrogant pompous General and that is an ignorant arrogant pompous General.
In my opinion, fear and flop sweat were very visible as they watched their carefully constructed Washington edifice of performance crumble and turn to dust—in a bipartisan fashion during Senate and House hearings. Life will go on, but as those being left behind enemy lines tell their stories of suffering in perhaps unimaginable ways, the devil’s brew created by our feckless American leaders will fester and boil over.
Leave no one behind is US military holy writ and now in a blink of an eye that has become a hollow pledge.
The other Afghan issue is the logic of twenty years of combat being turned on its head. Lt. Col Scheller is calling for full transparent public accountability covering the self-serving buffoonery of many during the twenty years’ span of senior commanders. The consequences we created in Afghanistan are not going away. After all, if the basic argument for staying the course was that we have to fight Islamic crazy fanatical killers there so they do not come here, meaning US and western Europe, then the Biden Administration just gave them billions and billions of nasty deadly weapons.
Way to go, guys!
Both Milley and McKenzie, the top US military commander in the Middle East, acknowledged that while no US troops remain on the ground in Afghanistan, neither the war on terror nor the war in Afghanistan are over.
McKenzie also said he was not confident in the US’s ability to prevent ISIS and al Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a launchpad for terrorist activity in the future. Milley said he believes US credibility has been damaged after the US withdrawal, which triggered the withdrawal of all NATO allied troops stationed in Afghanistan alongside Americans.
“I think that our credibility with allies and partners around the world, and with adversaries, is being intensely reviewed by them to see which way this is going to go. And I think that ‘damage’ is one word that could be used, yes,” Milley told Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi.
However most importantly, what should never be lost in questing for the truth in the fog of losing Afghanistan was General Milley’s strategic calls to China about US nuclear deterrence.
I suspect, not anticipating the Afghan debacle, General Milley, being a legend in his own mind, leaked his brilliance to Bob Woodward. Putting himself in the Strategic Nuclear response Chain-of-Command was so arrogant and ignorant it defies belief.
When I was Secretary Weinberger’s, Principal Director of Mobilization and Requirements for President Reagan, we made sure world leaders both friend and advisories alike, knew beyond any doubt that the President has the launch codes — and if ever executed, those orders go directly to out strategic forces. Even in those Cold War days, we measured response inside of thirty minutes. Coordinating with anyone outside that direct link would have cost us millions of lives lost.
Americans should not excuse the Chairman’s call to the Peoples Republic of China because it is actually an order of magnitude dangerous beyond his stewardship of the Afghan debacle and should be a firing offense. It is simple: just look what happened to a previous ignorant, arrogant general, who became Secretary of State on the day President Reagan was shot:
“…as doctors struggled to save the president and reporters clamored for information, Secretary of State Alexander Haig repeatedly insisted — wrongly — that he was in charge of the federal government.
“Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the president, the vice president and the secretary of state, in that order, and should the president decide he wants to transfer the helm to the vice president, he will do so,” Haig explained to reporters in the White House press room, apparently forgetting that the House speaker and the Senate’s president pro tempore come before the secretary of state in the line of succession. And then, in a dozen words that would become famous, he said, “As of now, I am in control here, in the White House.”
Note the Reagan Team immediately pushed back on Haig’s arrogant stupidity:
“…after Haig stormed into the press room and said he was in charge of the government. “That’s a mistake!” one yelled. “What’s this all about?” demanded Treasury Secretary Don Regan. “Is he mad?” “He’s wrong! He doesn’t have such authority,” said Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.
Where were the other senior leaders telling General Milley, “You do not have that authority!” when he was briefing them on his role and mission in strategic nuclear deterrence?
That would be part of the across the board accountability that is LtCol Scheller’s courageous point.✪