Top Retired Military Officers Call on Milley, Austin To Resign Over Afghanistan

'There must be accountability at all levels for this tragic and avoidable debacle'

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, (R) depart from a briefing with the House of Representatives on the situation in Afghanistan at the U.S. Capitol on August 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. / Getty Images
August 31, 2021

More than 80 retired senior military officers are calling for the resignations of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mark Milley following the Biden administration's botched withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"The consequences of this disaster are enormous and will reverberate for decades, beginning with the safety of Americans and Afghans who are unable to move safely to evacuation points; therefore, being de facto hostages of the Taliban at this time," Flag Officers 4 America, a group of retired generals and admirals across all military services except the Space Force, wrote in a statement Monday. "Trust in the United States is irreparably damaged."

The coalition of retired officers—which includes Reagan national security adviser and retired vice admiral John Poindexter, former rear admiral Rep. Ronny Jackson (R., Texas), and former four-star admiral and vice chief of naval operations Jerome Johnson—took aim at military leadership, saying adversaries such as China and Russia "are emboldened to move against America due to the weakness displayed in Afghanistan."

"A fundamental principle in the military is holding those in charge responsible and accountable for their
actions or inactions," the retired officers wrote. "There must be accountability at all levels for this tragic and avoidable debacle."

The coalition also said a culture of "wokeness" promoted by military leadership is further grounds for resignations, saying it is "extremely divisive and harmful to unit cohesion, readiness, and warfighting capability."

President Joe Biden ignored advice from senior military leadership in the lead up to the Taliban takeover of the country, which resulted in the deaths of 13 U.S. service members, according to some reports.

There is historical precedent for top national security staff resigning after foreign policy debacles. President Bill Clinton's secretary of defense, Les Aspin, resigned from his post after 18 American troops died in Somalia.