Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Workers Gen. Mark Milley hailed army heroism in Afghanistan, within the high Pentagon officers’ first public remarks for the reason that full withdrawal of U.S. army belongings from the area.
“It has been a busy time for all of us on this division, a proud one and a solemn one, too,” Austin mentioned. “We now have concluded our historic evacuation operation and ended the final mission of the U.S. conflict in Afghanistan.”
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He added: “America’s longest conflict has come to a detailed.”
Austin remembered the two,461 American service members and personnel who “paid the final word value” within the two-decade conflict, and the greater than 20,000 wounded People, a few of which, he mentioned, are “nonetheless carrying the scars which you could’t see on the skin.”
Austin touted the U.S. army evacuation mission, which he mentioned was the “largest air evacuation of civilians in American historical past.”
“It was heroic. It was historic, and I hope that each one People will unite to thank our service members for his or her braveness and their compassion,” he mentioned, noting they have been working in an “immensely harmful and dynamic atmosphere.”
“Our troops have been tireless, fearless, and selfless. Our commanders by no means flinched, and our allies and companions have been extraordinary,” Austin mentioned, including that the mission was executed within the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and “within the truth of grave and rising threats.”
Austin and Milley hailed the 13 U.S. service members who “paid the final word value” final Thursday in Kabul, throughout what Milley described as a “horrific terrorist assault” carried out by ISIS-Ok.
“Our forces risked their very own lives to avoid wasting the lives of others, and 13 of our perfect paid the final word value,” he mentioned. “And lots of of them have been too younger to personally bear in mind the 9/11 assaults. United States army will all the time honor their heroism.”
He added: “We mourn with their households and we owe them help by the times and years forward.”
“These troopers, sailors and Marines gave their lives in order that others might dwell free,” Milley mentioned. “They actually gave their tomorrows for the tomorrows of individuals they by no means knew these 124,000.”
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The officers additionally added that 22 American troops have been wounded within the suicide assault that took the lives of 13.
Marking the near the conflict in Afghanistan, Austin mentioned the U.S. army has shifted.
“Now, as one mission ends, others should go on,” he mentioned. “It’s our responsibility to defend this nation and we’re not going to take our eye off the ball.”
Austin mentioned which means “relentless counterterrorism efforts in opposition to any menace to the American folks from anywhere,” working with companions to shore up “stability” within the area surrounding Afghanistan, and a brand new deal with management to satisfy different safety challenges.
Austin expressed due to the army and their households, saying he’ll “all the time be pleased with the half we performed on this conflict,” however famous that the USA “mustn’t count on Afghan conflict veterans to agree any greater than every other group of People.”
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In the meantime, Milley addressed these veterans who served in Afghanistan, and households who’ve “suffered and sacrificed alongside our facet.”
“These have been extremely emotional and attempting days and certainly years. We’re all conflicted with emotions of ache and anger, sorrow and disappointment mixed with pleasure and resilience,” Milley mentioned. “There are not any phrases I or the secretary or the president or anybody else will ever do to convey the lifeless again. However we are able to all the time honor them.”
He added: “And one factor I’m sure of, for any soldier, sailor, airman or Marine and their household, your service mattered and it was not in useless.”
Austin and Milley have been requested about their “ache and anger” with regard to the top of America’s longest conflict— which they each served in.
Austin mentioned that People want “to respect one another’s views and be supportive of one another,” whereas encouraging those that imagine they need assistance to “search assist,” stressing the significance of psychological well being.
As for Milley, he mentioned he has “all the identical feelings, and I am certain the secretary does and anybody who served.”
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“I wasn’t born a four-star normal. I’ve walked the patrols and been blown up and shot at and the whole lot else,” Milley mentioned. “My ache and anger comes from the identical as these grieving households, the identical as these troopers which might be on the bottom.”
Milley added that he visited the wounded troopers at Walter Reed Military Medical Middle Tuesday night.
“That is powerful stuff,” Milley mentioned. “Warfare is difficult. It is vicious, it is brutal, it is unforgiving. And sure, all of us have ache and anger, and once we see what has unfolded over the past 20 years and over the past 20 days, that creates ache and anger.”
“And mine comes from 242 of my troopers killed in motion over 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Milley continued. “So, yeah, I’ve that.”
He added: “However I am knowledgeable soldier. I’ll comprise my ache and anger and proceed to execute my mission.”