Psaki ‘split’ on whether or not navy advisers instructed Biden to maintain troops in Afghanistan

After the nation’s prime navy advisers instructed a Senate panel that they suggested President Biden to maintain a 2,500 troop level in Afghanistan, White Home press secretary Jen Psaki appeared to verify that he obtained that suggestion however determined to disregard it and withdraw anyway. 

That narrative, in addition to those portrayed by two prime generals and Biden’s protection secretary, fly within the face of what Biden instructed ABC News‘ George Stephanopoulos final month, when he flat-out denied that his navy advisers endorsed him to maintain a power of two,500 within the war-torn nation.

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees, and Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, instructed the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that they suggested the president to take care of the small troop presence in Afghanistan. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki
White Home Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated navy advisers offered President Biden with a spread of viewpoints.

In her protection of the president, Psaki tried to separate hairs — at one level over the phrase “split.”

“Let me give you a couple of specifics from the actual transcript because I know it’s been short handed a bit,” she stated.

“The question asked by George Stephanopoulos was, ‘Your military advisers warned against withdrawing on this timeline, they wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops.’ The president said, ‘No they didn’t. It was split. That that wasn’t true. That wasn’t true. It was split,’” Psaki stated, studying again a portion of the transcript of the interview. 

She stated that’s a “pretty key part of the phrasing.”

Later within the briefing she was requested what the importance of Biden’s use of the phrase “split” was in that occasion.

“It may be useful for those who might simply inform us, what do you imply by ‘split’? What had been they cut up between?

Psaki shot again, “What’s confusing about that?”

Mine Resistant Ambush Protection vehicles, MRAP, seen inside the Bagram U.S. air base
High navy advisers needed to take care of 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
AFP through Getty Photos

“Well, it’s either one, they were advising that 2,500 troops should remain on the ground, or two, that someone was advising that it should be zero,” the reporter stated. 

“I think it’s important for the American people to know that these conversations don’t happen in black and white, or like you’re in the middle of a movie. These conversations are about a range of options, about what the, the risk assessments are about every decision,” Psaki deflected.

“And of course, there are individuals who come forward with a range of recommendations on what the right path forward looks like. I’m not going to detail those from here, the private conversations and advice to the President of the United States, ultimately, regardless of the advice. It’s his decision. He’s the Commander in Chief, he’s the president, he makes decisions about then what’s in the national interest and he believed we should end the war,” Psaki stated. 

Psaki later returned to the interview and Stephanopoulos’ query for Biden: “‘Your military advisers did not tell you, quote, no we should just keep 2,500 troops. It’s been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that.’”

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden determined to not comply with his navy advisers’ suggestions about holding troops in Afghanistan.

She stated Biden answered, “‘No, no one said that to me that I can recall.’”

Psaki stated Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin, Milley and McKenzie “made clear …  if you stay there at a force posture of 2,500 certainly you’d be in a fight with the Taliban, and you’d have to reinforce.”

She stated the navy advisers offered Biden with a spread of viewpoints “as would be expected as he asked for a clear-eyed, didn’t ask them not to sugarcoat, what their recommendations were.”

She additionally stated it was “clear to him” that the suggestions wouldn’t final lengthy and that there could be a necessity to spice up troop numbers which might result in preventing with the Taliban and a rise in casualties. 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees Gen. Mark Milley suggested the president to take care of the small troop presence in Afghanistan. 
Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Photos

“The president was just not willing to make that decision. He didn’t think it was in the interest of the American people or the interests of our troops,” Psaki stated. 

Later she was requested if the navy advisers had been OK with pulling out the troops. 

“That’s not what I said. What I said was … and I think we should not dumb this down for anybody here, we’re talking about the initial phase post May 1, we’re not talking about long-term recommendations,” she stated. 

“There was no one who said, ‘five years from now we could have 2,500 troops and that would be sustainable,’” she stated.  

Psaki stated there have been additionally dangers related to growing the troop presence.

“We now know to absolutely have been the reality, given it required 6,000 troops to just protect the airport – something we now know,” she stated.  

On the Senate listening to Milley was reluctant to enter element about his suggestions. 

However he stated: “I won’t share my personal recommendation to the president, but I will give you my honest opinion and my honest opinion and view shaped my recommendation. And I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan,” he stated.

McKenzie additionally stated that he warned Biden of the results of drawing down the troop quantity beneath 2,500.

“I stated consistently that my position was if you go below 2,500, you’re going to look at a collapse of the Afghan military. I did not foresee it to be days. I thought it would take months,” he instructed Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC).

Austin confirmed that Biden obtained the suggestions from his navy advisers concerning the troop ranges

“Their input was received by the president and considered by the president for sure,” he stated. “In terms of what they specifically recommended, senator, they just, as they just said, they’re not going to provide what they recommended in confidence.”

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