Join Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley detailed four key dates that went into planning and executing the evacuation and withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to his written testimony obtained by CNN on Wednesday.
Milley did not deliver the comments on camera.
The Biden administration has been criticized for not having prepared plans to carry out the withdrawal of forces and the evacuation of US citizens and others. Milley dismissed those criticisms by exposing some of the key events in the planning in Afghanistan.
He made reference to these four dates:
28th of April: Top military leaders, including Milley, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the commander of the US Central Command and others, conducted a retrograde test of Afghanistan within the Department of Defense. This event focused on the withdrawal of American forces.
“The primary purpose of this essay was to ensure a shared understanding of President Biden’s decision to leave Afghanistan and to coordinate and synchronize the efforts of the Department of Defense, our allies and partners,” Milley said.
May 8: All relevant members of the Cabinet conducted an interinstitutional tabletop exercise on the withdrawal of forces.
“This event covered a concept rehearsal for the complete withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and covered various branch plans and aftermath. It was to ensure that the US government, interagency and partners and allies had a shared vision of our the withdrawal timeline, the planning itself and making sure it’s in sync. “
June 11: A month later, the Joint Chiefs of Staff conducted a tabletop exercise for a Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO), which included senior officials from all agencies. Officials discussed a number of “key milestones” for a NEO, as well as the contingency in the event of an embassy closure, the intermediate readiness base locations and the process for triage and evaluating evacuees.
6th August: Senior government officials conducted another tabletop exercise to analyze the possibility of a civilian evacuation under two different conditions: one where the surrounding environment posed some challenges for evacuation, and one where the surrounding environment made it incredibly difficult.