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From Photo-Ops to Afghan Withdrawal: Trump & Milley's Most High-Profile Spats

© REUTERS / JIM YOUNG U.S. President Donald Trump and Gen. Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, speak at the 119th Army-Navy football game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. December 8, 2018
 U.S. President Donald Trump and Gen. Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, speak at the 119th Army-Navy football game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. December 8, 2018 - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.12.2021
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Former US President Donald Trump and Gen. Mark Milley had a well-documented tense relationship. Even as the two have since parted ways, Trump has proven that their separation only strengthened his dislike for the general.
Trump most recently took the opportunity during a speaking engagement at his Mar-a-Lago estate to take another jab at Milley, referring to him as a "f**king idiot" for essentially believing that abandoning military equipment in Afghanistan was the best option ahead of the US withdrawal.
Milley has yet to comment on Trump's critique.
While Milley may have been hand picked by Trump to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, their relationship inevitably soured as the former commander-in-chief's term came to an end.
Here are five of their most high-profile spats:

St. John's Church Photo-Op

On 1 June 2020, at the height of Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, DC, Trump cleared a mass of protesters to take an infamous photo of himself holding a bible in front of St. John's Church, located a few shorts steps from the White House.
As Trump approached the building, photos caught Milley, in full military garb, walking with the president. Subsequent reports on the incident revealed that the photos embarrassed Milley and almost led him to resign over what he viewed as a politicalisation of the military.
© AP Photo / Patrick SemanskyPresident Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Park of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Park of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.12.2021
President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Park of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Milley decided against resigning and instead publicly apologised for the president's actions, a move that Trump did not like. Reports at the time detailed that Trump demanded to know why Milley apologised, and told him that apologies were a sign of weakness.
Milley reportedly responded by telling the president: "Not where I come from". He later allegedly told the then commander-in-chief that he did not expect Trump to understand. "It's an ethic for us, a duty".

The Chinese Conversation

Trump's term in office saw a severe escalation of tensions between the United States and China, with US intelligence revealing that, at one point, China was fearful the US would launch an attack.
It has been reported that Milley, upon learning of China's concerns, called his Chinese counterpart and explained that an attack was not imminent, and that he would have warned China if Trump ordered an attack.
The call was done without Trump's knowledge, which later prompted Trump to blast Milley's actions as "treasonous".

Stop the Coup

In the wake of Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential election, Milley reportedly feared that Trump would stage a coup, and prepared the US high command to be ready to step in if there was not a peaceful transfer of power.
Milley is said to have gone to great lengths to ensure that, come January 20th, Joe Biden would be sworn in as US president, according to claims made by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonning and Philip Rucker in their tell-all book "I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year".
 U.S. President Donald Trump and Gen. Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, speak at the 119th Army-Navy football game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. December 8, 2018 - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.07.2021
General Milley Declines to Comment on Claims Trump Mulled Coup as He Calls US Military ‘Apolitical’
As reports began to emerge over the allegations, Trump blasted the claims. Oddly enough, while Trump did claim that he would never stage a coup, he did further state that he would never stage a coup with Milley.

"If I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is General Mark Milley", Trump said in the statement at the time.

Trump later stated that their fallout over the St. John's photo-op fiasco proved to him that Milley "had no courage or skill, certainly not the type of person I would be talking 'coup' with".

The Almost War With Iran

While Milley was watchful should Trump attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election, he also worried that Trump would look to start an external conflict.
Many advisers in Trump's inner circle were Iran hawks, and the idea of conducting military actions against the Middle Eastern nation were a constant theme in Milley's meetings with the administration.
Milley was reportedly in a meeting in which a Trump adviser suggested going to war with Iran should he lose the presidential election. When the subject was not immediately dropped, Milley repeatedly argued against taking any unprovoked military action against Iran.

On the subject of a missile strike against Iran, Milley reportedly told Trump: "If you do this, you're gonna have a f**king war".

On January 3rd, Milley finally convinced Trump to drop the idea of attacking Iran after weighing the pros and cons of a military operation.

Withdrawal of All US Troops From Afghanistan

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan is what prompted Trump's most recent lashing out at the military general, by referring to him as "a f**king idiot", but it was Milley who stopped Trump from withdrawing all US forces while 45 was still in office.
The Trump administration had signed an agreement with the Taliban* in February 2020 that would see US troops leave Afghanistan after nearly 20 years of military occupation.
© AP Photo / Alex BrandonPresident Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Washington, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley, listens.
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Washington, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley, listens. - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.12.2021
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Washington, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley, listens.
The original agreement called for US forces to withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months of the announcement. It was reported that Milley and other military officials had to convince Trump not to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan on January 15th.
Milley and other US military officials warned Trump that a full withdrawal would lead to the same issues that the Biden administration eventually struggled with in the August pullout.
*The Taliban is an organisation under UN sanctions over terrorist activities.
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