The New York Post editorial board on Sunday called on Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley to resign over the closing of Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
President Joe Biden said at a press conference Thursday that the military advised him to close the U.S. base and instead use Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul to evacuate the thousands of Americans still remaining in the country.
“They concluded — the military — that Bagram was not much value added, that it was much wiser to focus on Kabul,” the president told reporters. “And so, I followed that recommendation.”
Milley said securing Bagram took “a significant level of military effort” at an Aug. 18 briefing, adding the military’s task “given to use at the time … was to protect the Embassy in order for Embassy personnel to continue to function.” As a result, he said, “we had to collapse one or the other.”
A U.S. military official also told members of Congress during a call Friday that the Defense Department made Biden abandon the base, according to The Wall Street Journal. The official said the president’s order was to withdraw from Afghanistan and the military’s priority was the secure the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. (RELATED: Poll: Majority Of Voters Blame Biden For ‘Mismanaging’ US Exit From Afghanistan)
“If Biden is telling the truth, this disaster is on Milley’s watch. Or Biden is lying … and Milley failed to do his duty and push back against a commander-in-chief who is making deadly decisions,” the New York Post editorial board wrote. “Either way, he is derelict in his duty — and must either take responsibility for what went wrong or tell Americans the truth about their president.”
The U.S. military withdrew from Bagram Air Force Base on July 2, with the Afghan National Security and Defense Force (ANDSF) taking over. The ANDSF commander in charge of the base did not learn of the withdrawal until two hours after it happened.
During the Taliban’s advance across much of Afghanistan earlier in August, the Islamist militant group captured Bagram and reportedly released thousands of prisoners from the base’s Parwan Detention Facility. Many of the prisoners released were members of ISIS-K, the terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the Aug. 26 attack in Kabul that killed 13 U.S. soldiers.
“It’s hard to think of a worse way to handle this pullout,” the New York Post editorial board wrote. “Milley has been chairman of the Joint Chiefs since 2019. What have they been doing all these months? The US could have organized an evacuation from Bagram and held the base until Aug. 31 or longer, if necessary.”
“Instead, Milley spent his time defending critical race theory to Congress, while Biden ate ice cream,” the editorial board wrote.