Obama's Joint Chiefs chair says US should have gotten out of Afghanistan earlier

Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Ret. Admiral Michael Mullen said Sunday that the U.S. should have left the Afghanistan more quickly after the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.

During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Mullen, who served under former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team The Memo: Biden looks for way to win back deflated Black voters 6 in 10 say they would back someone other than Biden in 2024: Fox News poll MORE, also gave credit to President BidenJoe BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country MORE for his focus on counterterrorism in Afghanistan. 

“Think, in retrospect, yes, we should have. I don't think it was possible for us to just abruptly walk away right after we killed bin Laden. But, clearly, we could have gone earlier than we did,” Mullen told host Martha Raddatz.  

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“As I look back and -- and a lot of people are critical of the president right now, President Biden had it right back then. He was focused singly on counterterrorism. His advice was along those lines. And he certainly said that. And I give him credit for that.” 

Afghanistan's government fell last week as the Taliban took control of Kabul, regaining full control of the country for the first time since 2001, when U.S. troops arrived there in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Mullen told Raddatz that the U.S. should learn lessons from the withdrawal, comparing the U.S. leaving Afghanistan to leaving Saigon during the Vietnam War.

"I think we need to examine in the military that that can-do spirit and -- and that can we understand why we too often say yes to a mission when we should say no,” Mullen said. "Nobody wants the Saigon image and, obviously, we ended up with another Saigon image that will last permanently, quite frankly, whether we like it or not."