Miller paid a surprise visit to Kabul this week and met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani along with US military commanders and troops. According to Stars and Stripes, Miller also visited a US special forces base, Camp Morehead, located south of Kabul, to hear from troops about the war from the ground.
“I went there on purpose because I’m going to get the real deal from these guys. And their smart-ass comments and their insights led me to the conclusion we’re in a good place,” Miller said, without going into detail. Miller also met with US Forces Afghanistan Commander General Scott Miller and discussed the next phase of the planned withdrawal of troops from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January.
Miller said he had talked to General Scott Miller “extensively” about the work special operations troops will conduct in the next couple of months as all US forces are expected to leave the country by May 2021, Stars and Stripes reported. They will likely be the last US forces in the country to continue counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda and support the Afghan security forces, he said. “I thought special operations and irregular warfare capability should have stayed in Afghanistan.
[For] Iraq, the decision was made to do that. It should have been big Army, big Air Force…and I think we probably would have had a little different outcome in Afghanistan if we would have done — maintained what we were doing then and are doing now,” Miller said to reporters on the trip with him.
With the war in Afghanistan winding down for the United States, Miller said the takeaway for the military is about strategy, Stars and Stripes reported. “I think we gave it our all, we sure did. I think there’s some cautionary strategic lessons that I don’t know whether the military will learn them or not,” he said without specifying what those lessons are.
Miller said he heard during the trip that “the Afghan security forces are a lot more capable than frankly what I came in thinking they were” but added the United States can still inflict damage on the Taliban, if necessary.
On the complete withdrawal of troops, he said: “We’re supposed to be out by May 2021, y’all. That’s the agreement, right? This mission is really the one that’s going to get us to a place where we can depart with leaving behind a security capability that can survive whatever comes next.” He also stated that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was “in a tough position but I think he holds the keys to — the war winding down, it’s hard you know.
It’s never easy. Very rarely do you have total victory like you did in World War II. Most of these insurgencies… gets a little rough towards the end and everybody has to come together and compromise.” Stars and Stripes reported that according to Miller, the end of the US’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan is also closing a chapter for the US special operations community, which has endured a large amount of stress, casualties, and time overseas during the past 19 years.
While the troops are eager to “be where the action is,” the stress and challenges that these deployments have on their families “has been really of great concern to me,” he said. “That’s why we’re here. Hopefully next Christmas we’re not having this conversation about a whole bunch of people being away from home for the holidays again,” Miller said.