Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., pressed Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley on why he has not resigned in the wake of the military’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, which left hundreds of Americans stranded in the terrorist-controlled region and cost the lives of 13 U.S. service members.
Milley revealed during a congressional hearing on Tuesday that he had advised President Joe Biden to leave 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to ease the U.S.’s exit from the region and prevent the Taliban from taking control of the region.
Cotton asked Milley why, if the president refused to listen to his advice to the detriment of the country, he had not resigned in protest.
“As a senior military officer, resigning is a really serious thing. It’s a political act if I’m resigning in protest,” Milley replied. “My statutory responsibility is to provide legal advice, or at best military advice to the president, and that’s my legal requirement. That’s what the law is.
“The President doesn’t have to agree with that advice, he doesn’t have to make those decisions just because we’re generals, and it would be an incredible act of political defiance for a commissioned officer to just resign because my advice is not taken,” he continued.
Milley also said that his personal convictions would not have allowed him to resign — even if he disagreed with the president’s decisions.
“Just from a personal standpoint, my dad didn’t get a choice to resign at Iwo Jima,” he said, referring to his father, Alexander Milley, a Marine who fought in WWII.
“And those kids there at Abbey Gate, they don’t get a choice to resign, and I’m not going to turn my back on them,” Milley said, referring to the 13 U.S. troops killed at the Kabul airport by an ISIS-K attack. “I’m not gonna resign — they can’t resign, so I’m not going to resign, there’s no way.”
Republicans, including Cotton, have argued that Milley and the other military officials in charge of the military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan should step down or be fired for their disastrous execution of the exit.
However, Milley’s testimony proved that the U.S.’s failure in Afghanistan was ultimately Biden’s fault, Cotton said.