President BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE denied that his top military commanders recommended he leave 2,500 troops in Afghanistan amid peace negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban instead of withdrawing all troops by this fall.
“No they didn’t. It was split. That wasn’t true,” Biden told ABC’s George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosSurgeon general: 'Our enemy is the virus. It is not one another' Christie: Biden's new vaccine mandate will 'harden opposition' GOP senator on Texas abortion law: Supreme Court will 'swat it away' when 'it comes to them in an appropriate manner' MORE when asked about the recommendation, which was reported by The Wall Street Journal and other outlets in April.
When pressed, Biden was adamant that military leaders did not argue against his plan to withdraw all troops by Sept. 11.
“No,” Biden told Stephanopoulos in the interview, portions of which aired early Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America." “No one said that to me that I can recall.”
The Wall Street Journal reported in April that Biden’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan went against recommendations from top military commanders — specifically Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East; Gen. Austin Miller, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan; and Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyWoodward: Milley was 'setting in motion sensible precautions' with calls to China Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Rocky US alliances as Biden heads to UN assembly Thompson says he hopes Jan 6. committee can complete work by 'early spring' MORE, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
The military commanders reportedly wanted the continued troop presence to maintain stability in the country as officials worked to support peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban. According to the Journal, Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinSchumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Afghan evacuation still frustrates Diplomats express 'frustration' to Blinken over Havana syndrome skepticism: report MORE shared the concerns of the military commanders about withdrawing all troops. The U.S. had 2,500 troops in Afghanistan when Biden took office in January.
Biden, who has long advocated for reducing America’s military footprint in Afghanistan, ultimately decided to withdraw all troops. The deadline for the full withdrawal was moved up last month to Aug. 31.
The swift drawdown has been followed by chaos in Afghanistan. The Taliban overran the country and took Kabul on Sunday, a quicker timeline than officials say they anticipated. The Biden administration is under tremendous pressure to quickly evacuate Americans and at-risk Afghans who are currently stranded in the country.
Biden has insisted that he would have been forced to ramp up American troop presence in Afghanistan if he had decided to remain in the country after former President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE, before he left office, made a deal with the Taliban to withdraw forces by May 1 of this year.
“I have one of two choices,” Biden told Stephanopoulos in the interview, which was taped on Wednesday. “Do I say we’re staying, and do you think we would not have to put a hell of a lot more troops in? We had tens of thousands of troops there before.”
Biden also insisted he would have found a way to withdraw American forces and end U.S. involvement in Afghanistan even if Trump had not made the deal to leave when he was president.
“I would have figured out how to withdraw those troops, yes,” Biden said. “There is no good time to leave Afghanistan. Fifteen years ago it would have been a problem; 15 years from now. The basic choice is: Am I going to send your sons and your daughters to war in Afghanistan, in Afghanistan, in perpetuity?”