Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Tuesday released a statement vowing “accountability” for the families of those killed in the Abbey Gate bombing two years ago during the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“We owe Gold Star families everything. We owe them transparency, we owe them honesty, we owe them accountability. We owe them the truth about what happened to their loved ones,” Milley, who has received sharp criticism for his role in the botched Afghanistan withdrawal, said in a statement to Fox News.
The U.S. on Saturday marked the two-year anniversary of the attack outside the Abbey Gate at Kabul Airport during the chaotic military evacuation from Afghanistan in 2021. At least 183 people were killed in the attack, including 13 U.S. service members.
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Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley speaks with reporters after a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the Pentagon, Monday, May 23, 2022, in Washington. ((AP Photo/Alex Brandon))
The Biden administration took heavy criticism for the chaos that accompanied the withdrawal, which was in turn followed by a takeover of the country by the Taliban. Republicans in particular have continued to demand officials be held accountable for the withdrawal.
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Some Gold Star families have also criticized the administration, and said they were given incomplete or incorrect information. The House Foreign Affairs Committee was holding a roundtable with Gold Star families on Tuesday afternoon, just as Milley’s statement was released.
Milley addressed some of the claims about incorrect information in his statement.
“I trust the Army, Navy and Marine Corps did the best they could in briefing the families who had loved ones killed at Abbey Gate. I believe the briefers gave every piece of information that they could. If there was issues with that, we need to take whatever corrective action is necessary,” he said. “And our hearts go out to those families.”
He continued: “This is a personal thing for all of us in uniform. We don’t like what happened in Afghanistan. We don’t like the outcome of Afghanistan. We owe it to the families to take care of them. Their sacrifices were not in vain.”
Taliban fighters patrol on the road during a celebration marking the second anniversary of the withdrawal of U.S.-led troops from Afghanistan, in Kandahar, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday, Aug. 15. (AP/Abdul Khaliq)
He then said that for those who served in the mission, “the cost in blood was high, but every single one of us who served in Afghanistan should hold our heads high.
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“Each served with skill, dedication and honor. For two decades our nation was not attacked from Afghanistan – that was our mission, and each one can be rightly proud of their service,” he continued.
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