At pivotal moment in Afghanistan war, Biden weighs a dilemma
FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2021, file photo newly graduated Afghan National Army march during their graduation ceremony after a three-month training program at the Afghan Military Academy in Kabul, Afghanistan. AdBiden has not commented in detail on Afghanistan since taking office, but he has a long history with the war. Biden said during the 2020 campaign that he might keep a counterterrorism force in Afghanistan but also would “end the war responsibly” to ensure U.S. forces never have to return. AdU.S. allies in NATO have not disputed the U.S. complaint that the Taliban has not fulfilled it Doha commitments, nor have they called for an early troop withdrawal. What's left of American leverage at this point, he said, rests with the U.S. military presence and the prospect of financial aid once a peace deal is done.
Experts group urges delayed US troop pullout in Afghanistan
A bipartisan experts group is recommending the Biden administration urgently re-open talks with the Taliban to delay a full withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan beyond the May deadline agreed to by the Trump administration. Pentagon officials in recent days have expressed skepticism of fulfilling the withdrawal commitment made one year ago in Doha. It said that would be based on the fact that the peace talks agreed to in Doha were six months late getting started. The Doha deal was widely seen as a hopeful step toward easing Afghans' prolonged suffering after decades of conflict. Central to U.S. calculations about withdrawing completely from Afghanistan is an assessment of the outlook for a negotiated peace.
Gen. Milley key to military continuity as Biden takes office
President-elect Joe Biden will inherit Milley as his senior military adviser, and although Biden could replace him, he likely won't. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)WASHINGTON – In taking charge of a Pentagon battered by leadership churn, the Biden administration will look to one holdover as a source of military continuity: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. President-elect Joe Biden will inherit Milley as his senior military adviser, and although Biden could replace Milley, he likely won't. It appears unlikely that Austin, Biden's defense secretary nominee, will win Senate confirmation by Inauguration Day, Wednesday. Anticipating that bump, Biden has persuaded a Trump administration official, Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist, to stay on temporarily as acting secretary.
Military wary that shakeup could upend its apolitical nature
Esper also had worked with military leaders to talk Trump out of complete troop withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan. And top military leaders — including Milley — are counseling patience and stability. But on other policy matters, Pentagon leaders saluted and marched forward. The abrupt personnel changes this week, however, have amped up the anxiety of civilian and military staff in the five-sided building. James Anderson, who had been acting undersecretary for policy, and Joseph Kernan, who was undersecretary for intelligence, both resigned Tuesday.
'The walk' thrusts Gen. Milley reluctantly into spotlight
Walking behind Trump from left are, Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Milley crafted a low public profile in his first eight months on the job, but that changed after the walk. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)WASHINGTON In his first eight months as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley carefully crafted a low-key public profile. He knew that splashy and sassy were unlikely to endear him to his boss, President Donald Trump. Milley is known in the military as a charismatic leader who commanded troops during several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.