Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) on Tuesday asked Gen. Mark Milley why he had not resigned over the deadly evacuation from Afghanistan.
“Why haven’t you resigned?” Cotton asked Milley, citing Milley’s comments that President Joe Biden did not consult the general until August 25 about moving the evacuation deadline past the Taliban-enforced deadline of August 31.
“General Milley, I can only conclude that your advice about staying in Afghanistan was rejected,” Cotton said. “I’m shocked to learn that your advice wasn’t sought until August 25th on staying past the August 31 deadline.”
“I understand that you’re the principal military adviser, but you don’t decide, the president decides, but if all this is true, General Milley, why haven’t you resigned?” Cotton asked.
“Senator, as a senior military officer,” Milley began, “resigning is a really serious thing. It’s a political act if I’m resigning in protest.”
“I’m not going to resign,” Milley declared. “If the orders were illegal, that’s different. But if they’re legal from a civilian authority, I intend to carry them out.”
“My job is to provide advice. My statutory responsibility is to provide legal advice or best military advice to the president, and that’s my legal requirement. That’s what the law is,” Milley said. “The president doesn’t have to agree with that advice. He doesn’t have to make those decisions just because we’re generals.”
“It would be an incredible act of political defiance for a commissioned officer to just resign because my advice is not taken. This country doesn’t want generals figuring out what orders we are going to accept and do or not. That’s not our job,” Milley added.
The deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan reportedly left thousands of U.S. lawful permanent residents stranded behind enemy lines, billions of dollars worth of equipment abandoned to the Taliban, and 13 U.S. troops killed by a suicide bomb. During the chaotic evacuation, a U.S. drone strike killed seven Afghan children in what the U.S. government characterized as a mistake.
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø.