Biden And Milley Inflated Afghan Army Numbers, Pentagon Report Shows

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden and Gen. Mark Milley drastically overstated the size of the Afghan army in recent weeks, claiming it had more than 300,000 soldiers at its disposal when it in fact had less than 200,000, according to a Pentagon Inspector General report.

The report, released July 31, details that the Afghan army had 182,071 soldiers as of April, far lower than the numbers Biden and Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs, put forward publicly. Biden said as recently as Monday that the U.S. “trained and equipped an Afghan military force of some 300,000 strong.” (RELATED: Biden Denies Military Leaders Warned Him Against Quick Withdrawal Date)

Biden was combining the Afghan military and police forces, the latter of which numbered 118,628. Combining the two would have resulted in a total of 300,699 security personnel in April, but the report stipulated that force numbers had decreased significantly between April and its July release.

Milley also got the numbers wrong in testimony before Congress on June 17, though he was far closer than Biden.

“Right now, the government of Afghanistan is holding and they have approximately about 325,000 to 350,000 person security force — army and police force,” he said at the time.

While Milley correctly differentiated between the Afghan military and Afghan police, he inflated the total number by at least 25,000.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the discrepancy between Biden, Milley and the Pentagon.

Biden and other White House officials have repeatedly insisted that the Afghan military was well equipped and sizable enough to fight back against the Taliban effectively.

Biden claimed prior to the U.S. withdrawal that Afghan forces could hold against, or even defeat, the Taliban. The government nevertheless fell in a matter of days, with Taliban forces taking over the capital of Kabul on Sunday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki and national security adviser Jake Sullivan have both argued that Afghan forces simply proved unwilling to mount meaningful resistance to the Taliban. Biden himself argued Monday that the ineffectiveness of the Afghan military was a prime reason the U.S. should cut its losses in the country.

“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” he said. “We spent over a trillion dollars.”