Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that he had received an "unclassified signed order" from former President Donald Trump on Nov. 11, 2020 to withdraw all armed forces from Afghanistan by Jan. 15, confirming previous reporting on the matter.
The Military Times' Meghann Myers notes the order came two days after Trump fired former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who was worried about such a move. Trump did eventually pull the order back after further discussions, Milley says. The Jan. 15 date is notable because it would have taken place five days before Trump was set to leave the White House, though at the time Milley says he gave the order, the presidential election results were still somewhat up in the air, at least from Trump's perspective.
Milley also addressed the Trump administration's 2020 negotiations with the Taliban, which many critics argue helped set the stage for their rapid and successful offensive to retake Afghanistan this summer. He said the Taliban failed to honor nearly all of their commitments, including cutting ties with al Qaeda. Additionally, both Milley and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, agreed the deal negatively affected the morale and performance of the Afghan army.