During the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Noncombatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) in Afghanistan yesterday, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) called Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, and CENTCOMM Commander Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., “the three who broke the military.”
Blackburn’s designation followed an intense questioning of the three leaders over the mistakes made during the recent withdrawal of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The majority of this hearing hinged on figuring out where to place blame for those errors.
Members of the committee sought accountability from the three leaders. Especially for the fatal error that cost 13 service members and hundreds of Afghan citizens their lives, during the Aug. 26 suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport.
A senator seeking accountability
If Blackburn’s terms are any indication, she seems to believe that the blame for these mistakes should fall on the leaders who played a role in the decision-making process.
“How do you look young men in the eye, that are coming to our military academy days, and who want to serve, and say, ‘You can depend on me. I’ve got your back.?'” Sen. Blackburn asked rhetorically.
Elaborating on this sentiment, she said, “The special ops guys I met with Friday, in my office in Nashville, that are taking their time, their money, and risking their lives to do a job that the three of you could not do. Maybe we’re going to remember you three as the three that broke the military.”
“This is causing, just a lot of anger from people who have trusted the military. They felt like the military was one of the most trustworthy institutions.” Blackburn summarized.
Shortly after this, Blackburn denounced General Milley as a political figure. She noted that various books have cited him in recent months, and stated, “What you have managed to do is politicize the U.S. Military, to downgrade our reputation with our allies.”
Shortly after this, Blackburn hinted that some resignations should result from the hearing’s findings. She was not the only senator to air out such grievances either.
Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said during the hearing, “And in my view, that mission can’t be called a success in any way shape or form logistical or otherwise. General, I think you should resign. Secretary Austin, I think you should resign. I think this mission was a catastrophe. I think there’s no other way to say it, and there has to be accountability”