Ric Grenell, President Trump’s former acting Director of National Intelligence, on Tuesday said General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has not been truthful about who made the disastrous decision to shut down Bagram Air Force Base before evacuating American citizens and Afghan allies from the war-torn country.
During an interview on Fox News, Grenell took aim at Milley, accusing the four-star general of falsely claiming that the commander in charge of Bagram Air Force Base, General Scott Miller, advised the Biden White House to shut the base down.
“I can tell you that that’s not true. I know that from very first hand information. General Miller did not want to close Bagram but General Milley said that he did,” Grenell told Fox News host Bill Hemmer.
During a press conference on August 18, Milley claimed that CENTCOM commander General Kenneth McKenzie, and General Miller had made the decision to close Bagram Air Force Base.
“Our task given to us at that time, our task was protect the embassy in order for the embassy personnel to continue to function with their consular service and all that. If we were to keep both Bagram and the embassy going, that would be a significant number of military forces that would have exceeded what we had or stayed the same or exceeded what we had,” Milley told reporters.
“So we had to collapse one or the other, and a decision was made. The proposal was made form CENTCOM commander and the commander on the grounds, Scott Miller, to go ahead and collapse Bagram,” Milley continued. “That was all briefed and approved, and we estimated that the risk of going out of HKIA or the risk of going out of Bagram about the same, so going out of HKIA — was estimated to be the better tactical solution in accordance with the mission set we were given and in accordance with getting the troops down to about 600, 700 number.”
Grenell disputed Milley’s version of events, telling Hemmer that Miller had actually warned the White House not to close the base.
“I know that General Miller made those stark warnings to [National Security Advisor] Jake Sullivan and said ‘do not close Bagram,’ and Bagram was closed,” the former diplomat said. “Our troops were removed, and we left ten percent of Americans behind. The Biden Doctrine for the rest of history will be ’90 percent is good enough,'” he added.
During Senate testimony on June 23, Milley himself recommended that Bagram be shut down because “it’s not necessary tactically for the operation we’re going to do here with Afghanistan.”
Gen. Mark Milley an absolute *train wreck* in his consultation before Congress on Jun. 23 about what will happen if the U.S. pulls troops from Afghanistan and abandons Bagram AF base.
This is one of the most damning videos I've ever seen. WATCH! pic.twitter.com/on455z6n1a
— Kyle Becker (@kylenabecker) August 26, 2021
On June 23, Milley testified that the Taliban controlled about 81 districts, which he downplayed as not terribly significant because the country has 419 districts. Less than a month later, on July 21, he told reporters the Taliban now controlled about half of Afghanistan’s districts.
Grenell said he didn’t know how many troops Miller wanted to keep the Bagram Air Base, the embassy, and the Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) open, but he did know for sure that the general had cautioned against closing the base.
Last month, just a few days before the August 30 deadline, Grenell suggested on Twitter that the Senate should call Miller in to testify in a hearing about what he thinks about the decision.
General Scotty Miller did not believe closing Bagram Air Base was the right strategy.
The Senate should ask him in a hearing.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) August 26, 2021
Grenell also pointed out that Bagram Air Force Base would have been easier to protect than HKIA because it is further away from the city.
The Kabul airport is nestled inside a dense urban area, has just one runway, and relatively limited ramp space.
Bagram, with two large runways and other supporting infrastructure, is situated 30 miles to the North of Kabul, with a much larger and more readily defensible perimeter.
According to the military website, the Warzone, it would have been “possible to shuttle in evacuees from Hamid Karzai International Airport, offering an immediate way to relieve the current logistical strains imposed by conducting evacuations flights from a single airport. In addition, the base could present a valuable fall-back location to continue evacuation operations should the security situation in Kabul continue to erode, and that could be maintained after Aug. 31.”
Joe Biden on August 26, threw all of the generals under the bus, claiming they all told him that Bagram offered little value to the drawdown mission.
“As for tactical questions of how to conduct an evacuation or war, I gather up all the major military personnel that are in Afghanistan, the commanders, as well as at the Pentagon, and I ask for their best military judgment, what would be the most efficient way to accomplish the mission,” Biden said, in response to a question about who decided to turn over Bagram Air Force Base to the Afghan government.
“[The military] concluded that Bagram was not much value-added, that it was much wiser to focus on Kabul. And so I followed that recommendation,” he said.
Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) however told Fox News host Laura Ingraham on August 26 that the decision to close the base—”one of the biggest mistakes in our nation’s military history”— was entirely Joe Biden’s decision.”
Green told Ingraham, “I know for a fact that the military advised him not to leave Bagram.”
He said we’re going to downsize to 600 Marines. And the leadership told him we can’t hold Bagram with 600 Marines. He said, I don’t care go to 600. He arbitrarily picked a number out of the sky. And they couldn’t hold that base with 600. So they collapsed to Kabul.
This is Joe Biden, and his incompetence that made that decision. And that decision is what cost those lives today. The perimeter around that base is a street wide. That’s it. But out of Bagram, you had kilometers of range that you can see the enemy coming. But not when it’s just a street in the middle of an urban area.
It’s a horrible decision. It’s 100 percent Joe Biden’s and that’s not the first lie this guy has told or I should say he’s totally disconnected from the truth, many, many other lies, and it just he needs to step down. He needs to resign or the cabinet needs to do something.
“Let’s be very clear. Donald Trump handed Joe Biden a stable Afghanistan and a functioning State Department,” Grenell told Hemmer on Tuesday. “That completely collapsed. What the Taliban heard when Joe Biden took over, was that they could take over, city by city, and eventually the whole country, and not have pushback.”