The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has cited unnamed sources as saying that President Joe Biden's move to remove all US troops from Afghanistan was out of sync with recommendations by his top military commanders, who were concerned that the decision could damage the South Asian country's security.
The sources mentioned General Frank McKenzie, the commander of US forces in the Middle East, General Austin Miller, who leads NATO forces in Afghanistan, and Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who all ostensibly insisted on retaining the current force of 2,500 American troops in the country.
The insiders argued that the senior officers' fears were also shared by Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, who warned that the full withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan would ride roughshod over the country's stability.
The sources added that even though Biden "carefully weighed the military's input", he remained firm in his resolve to implement the troop pullout.
According to the insiders, Miller and Milley first learned about Biden's plans during a 6 April intelligence briefing, where POTUS reportedly said "yes" when asked by the generals if he had decided on removing US troops in Afghanistan.
The WSJ report followed Republican Senator Lindsey Graham warning earlier this week that Biden's decision may lead to a further escalation of the civil war in Afghanistan, creating a volatile environment that may return groups like al-Qaeda* and Daesh* to power.
"With all due respect to President Biden, you have not ended the war, you've extended it. You have made it bigger, not smaller", Graham told reporters on Thursday, adding that POTUS "unfortunately, has chosen the highest risk option available, which is to leave no matter what".
Biden Announces Full Exit of US Troops From Afghanistan
On Wednesday, Biden announced that the US will begin withdrawing its 2,500 troops from Afghanistan on 1 May, hoping to be fully out by 11 September, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. The withdrawal will miss a 1 May deadline that the Trump administration had established in a 2020 peace deal with the Taliban.
Speaking to journalists, the US president pointed out that the reasons for staying in Afghanistan had "become increasingly unclear", and that the US had "accomplished all that we can militarily".
"I am now the fourth United States president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth", Biden underscored.
American forces quickly toppled the ruling Taliban government at the time for its refusal to hand over bin Laden, but has since been caught in a deadly quagmire in Afghanistan, where the US military has lost more than 2,300 soldiers since the war kicked off in the South Asian country in 2001.
*al-Qaeda, Daesh, terrorist groups banned in Russia and a number of other countries