Acting US Defense Secretary Christopher Miller after visiting US forces and American military leadership in Kabul on Tuesday said that special operations forces were the first deployed in the war in Afghanistan and likely will be the last troops to leave the country, according to a Stars and Stripes report.
The report said that Miller traveled to Camp Morehead, located south of Kabul, where US special operations forces train Afghan commandos, 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.
During his visit, he also met with Army Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of US and coalition forces there, and President Ashraf Ghani to discuss the US commitment to that country’s security and the ongoing withdrawal of roughly 2,500 US troops by Jan. 15.
Miller said he had talked to Gen. 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, the report said.
They will likely be the last US forces in the country to continue counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida 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.
“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.
During a luncheon at Hamid Karzai International Airport before his meetings with U.S. and Afghan leaders, Miller told U.S. troops and civilians about the importance of their work for the drawdown.
Miller told the luncheon audience that he was there to thank Afghan leadership for their work and a hope for a peace agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
“[Ghani’s] 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,” Miller added.