Top Afghanistan General Steps Down in Symbolic Gesture

by mcardinal

Michael Cardinal, FISM News


The longest tenured lead general in Afghanistan, Austin Miller, stepped down from his command post on Monday, symbolizing the end of America’s 20-year involvement in the country.

Miller had served as the head commander of operations in Afghanistan since 2018 and called the assignment “the most important in his military career.” He appeared to be deeply concerned for the people of the country heading into the expected turmoil that they will face, saying the Afghan people “will be in my heart and on my mind for the rest of my life.” Miller will continue to be involved in operations remotely from Florida until troops fully withdraw on August 31. A small ceremony took place for Miller at a military base in Kabul before he left the country via helicopter.

Miller’s ceremony took place as Taliban forces are making major strides in the country. The Taliban has taken over a third of the provincial districts in Afghanistan including many key border crossings. On Tuesday, a video surfaced that showed Taliban insurgents killing nearly two dozen unarmed Afghan military personnel after they had surrendered, while yelling “Allahu akbar.” This highlights the fear that many military officials have voiced, that without American support the country will enter into upheaval and once again become a breeding ground for terrorism.

U.S. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie who attended the ceremony in Kabul addressed the concerns of the power vacuum:

If this government is overthrown, if the Taliban prevail, I think we’re going to expect a return to medieval standards here in Afghanistan, particularly in the domain of women’s rights, human rights, education and so many other things.

Miller also revealed that without having a presence in the area it will be much more difficult to get an accurate picture of what concerns to US interests there are. Another major concern is the safety of soldiers and officials that are now left behind with little support as the Taliban has declared that they view any foreign personnel as “invaders.”

Despite these fears, President Biden has maintained that he will not send “another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan” and that it is now time for the Afghan people to determine their own fate. Biden recently pushed up the date of full withdrawal from the country to August 31, and the military has been making steps to close out their mission. Last week troops fully withdrew from the Bagram Air Base, which was the main hub for US operations in the country.