“If they did not do everything within their authority to stop the hasty withdrawal, they should resign,” they wrote. “Conversely, if they did do everything within their ability to persuade the [president] to not hastily exit the country without ensuring the safety of our citizens and Afghans loyal to America, then they should have resigned in protest as a matter of conscience and public statement.”
“A fundamental principle in the military is holding those in charge responsible and accountable for their actions or inactions. There must be accountability at all levels for this tragic and avoidable debacle,” the letter further read.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, Commander of the U.S. Central Command, announced earlier Monday that the last U.S. flight out of Afghanistan had departed from the capital city of Kabul. The departure effectively marked the end of the 20-year U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan that culminated in the Taliban taking control of most of the country and declaring a new Islamic Emirate.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted there were still more than 200 Americans remaining in Afghanistan who wanted to leave as of Sunday morning, around 24 hours from the departure of the last U.S. flight. It remains unclear how many of those Americans were left behind in Afghanistan as of Monday.
“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,” the retired flag officers wrote in Monday’s letter.
“The damage to the reputation of the United States is indescribable. We are now seen, and will be seen for many years, as an unreliable partner in any multinational agreement or operation,” the letter continued.
Biden is expected to address the nation on the now-completed U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan on Tuesday afternoon.