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Washington, D.C. — Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul announced another release of transcribed interviews with State Department officials charged with leading the United States’ civilian evacuation from Afghanistan. Over the past few weeks, the committee released its first, secondthirdfourth, and fifth tranches of transcribed interviews with key State Department and Department of Defense (DoD) officials involved in the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

The transcribed interviews were conducted over several months and are minimally redacted.

Transcribed interviews were conducted with DoD officials, including:

  • General Austin Scott Miller, Commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and U.S Forces Afghanistan from September 2018 to July 2021, shortly before the fall of Kabul.

General Austin Scott Miller is a retired four-star general in the United States Army and former Delta Force commander who served as the final Commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and U.S Forces Afghanistan from September 2018 to July 2021. He was the longest-serving commander of the war in Afghanistan, serving nearly three years in that role. General Miller’s military service spans nearly four decades, serving in numerous conflicts, including Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. General Miller retired from the Army in December 2021 with numerous awards for his service, including two awards of the coveted Combat Infantryman Badge, two Purple Hearts, the Silver Star, and an unprecedented 20 Overseas Service Bars, denoting more than 10 full years in combat zones.

General Miller appeared before the committee voluntarily to offer his testimony on the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, recognizing the importance of this investigation based on his own experiences in Mogadishu, stating, “And it’s bigger, you’re right. And nothing happens in isolation. But some events happen that are so big that we end up – 3-4 October, there were a lot of things led to that in 1993. But there’s a movie about 3-4 October, you know, not the five or six things that preceded it.” (Page 217, Lines 19-22).

Accordingly, General Miller testified to the gravity of understanding the events leading up to August 2021, giving emphasis in his testimony to the lessons learned for future administrations while acknowledging the serious moral injury the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan had on an entire generation of American servicemembers, saying, “And Afghanistan, I know, has affected people. I’ve tried to help them and, you know, help them steer in the right direction and encourage them what not to do. But I think it’s not just Afghanistan, but, you know, the way we came out of there felt traumatic. It just did. I mean, it felt traumatic for all of us, and probably not unlike what Saigon looked like for Vietnam veterans after spending so much time in Vietnam and seeing an evacuation off the roof.” (Page 205, Lines 9-11).

See a summary of Miller’s entire transcribed interview here.


Upon assuming command in 2018, General Miller undertook an extensive field assessment of the situation in Afghanistan and concluded that the U.S. could draw down troops to 8,600 with no risk, continuing to provide the necessary support to the “capable” Afghan Air Force, as well as the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF):

General Miller testified that when he arrived in Afghanistan, the ANSF were experiencing heavy casualties. According to Miller, there were 80-90 Afghan casualties per day at the time. (Page14, lines 19-20). General Miller assessed that, while the Afghan Air Force were capable, they were wholly dependent on U.S. contractor support. (Page 17, Lines 20-23). Upon arrival in 2018, General Miller had about 15,000 troops. He testified that, given the U.S. and NATO objectives assigned at the time, he believed the U.S. could reduce troops to 8,600. (Page 28, Lines 24-25).


General Miller described how the Taliban used the Doha deal to escalate attacks on the Afghan forces, and, in 2021, it was his assessment that the Taliban sought to takeover Afghanistan, not compromise with the government:

General Miller emphasized that his foremost concern entering the Doha negotiations rested on maintaining support for the Afghans. He stated, “what we were most concerned about as a military component of this agreement is we didn’t want to leave the Afghans, we didn’t want to create a deal that left the Afghans without support and allowed the Taliban to continue to attack without any support from us.” (Page 22, Lines 16-19).

According to General Miller, the Taliban wanted no American military in Afghanistan, which, according to the Taliban, included contractors and anyone who could support counterterrorism teams in the country. (Page 149, Lines 5-6).

General Miller assessed that in 2021 that the Taliban were seeking a military takeover of Afghanistan, testifying, “In ‘21 I assessed they were going for a takeover, just by their actions on the ground.” (Page 59, Lines 10-12).

According to General Miller, based on his experience as the Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the Taliban failed to adhere to the conditions of the Doha Agreement, including the condition to reduce violence, testifying, that after the agreement was signed, the Taliban, “what they did is they changed their violence, they went full in on the Afghan checkpoints and trying to dump a body count up.” (Page 25, Lines 15-17).

When asked about the “Peace Government” plan advanced by the Biden administration in early 2021 for a power-sharing agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban, General Miller confirmed the Taliban viewed the Afghan government as “illegitimate” and that he believed the Taliban would not have accepted a power sharing agreement with the Afghan government. (Page 111, Lines 1-9).

General Miller confirmed that once President Biden announced the U.S. military withdrawal on April 14, 2021 it had an immediate impact and the Taliban no longer had incentive to negotiate with the Afghan government, with the Taliban’s mindset being, “Why even talk to this group of Afghans that are here talking about a power sharing agreement? We have what we want here now. We don’t need a power sharing agreement.” (Page 136, Lines 3-5).

General Miller testified that throughout 2021, the Taliban maintained established ties with terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda. (Page 114, Lines 19-25; Page 115, Lines 1-6). He further assessed that al-Qaeda continues to pose a threat to the United States, testifying, “I think as long as al Qaeda is out there with an idea and some operatives, there is some threat to, if not the homeland, to U.S. interests.” (Page 118, Lines 4-5).

General Miller confirmed that the Taliban failed to adhere to the conditions of the Doha Agreement, including the condition to reduce violence, testifying, that after the agreement was signed, the Taliban did not reduce their violence, and, instead, “what they did is they changed their violence, they went full in on the Afghan checkpoints and trying to dump a body count up.” (Page 25, Lines 15-17).

General Miller was never explicitly informed by anyone in the Biden administration that they were going to remain in the Doha Agreement despite the Taliban’s violations of the deal. (Page 124, Lines 20-25; Page 125, Lines 1-4).


General Miller testified that he assessed that a Go-To-Zero order would be disastrous — an assessment that remained consistent across the two administrations he served under and an assessment that would come to fruition after the Biden administration’s Go-To-Zero order:

General Miller stated that in 2020 the U.S. mission in Afghanistan was split between counterterrorism and supporting the ANSF, testifying, “I’d say it’s probably 60-40 at that point, because we still had legacy.” (Page 146, Lines 19-20).

General Miller did not push back on President Trump’s order to reduce troops to 4,500 from 8,600 because the U.S. could withdraw those troops without risk and continue to meet its objectives. (Page 103; Lines 1-5).

General Miller’s military assessment and guidance was that with 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, the U.S. could effectively support the sustainability of the ANSF and its fight against terrorism. (Page 120, Lines 12-15).

According to General Miller, it was his assessment that in 2021, the U.S. mission to protects its interests and national security would have been better protected with 2,500 troops in Afghanistan and that he didn’t envision staying forever given that objectives would change. (Page 152, Lines 14-25; Page 153, Lines 1-11).

General Miller testified that, while going to zero was considered by President Trump in 2020, it was walked back in accordance with military guidance, keeping troop levels at 2,500. (Page 59, Lines 19- 22).

General Miller did not believe there would have been need for a surge beyond the existing 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, testifying, “I did not see a need for — I could not rule out a need for a surge down the road to protect forces. But at the same time, I didn’t necessarily think it was the most likely.”(Page 32, Lines 22-24).

As Commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan and NATO’s Resolute Mission, General Miller advised that drawing troops to zero would lead to dire consequences. “My view was that going to zero things would go very bad very fast. And of course, define that, not prepared for a political or a security collapse while we’re still present, just wouldn’t be prepared.”(Page 60, Lines 1-7). “At zero, you lose your infrastructure…Everything goes over the horizon, to include contracted logistics support, fires. Everything goes over the horizon.” (Page 127, Lines 18- 24). General Miller’s assessment of going to zero remained consistent across the two administrations he served under. (Page 131, Lines 1-7).

General Miller described the risk and danger that came with going down to zero during the military withdrawal, stating that his primary focus, after President Biden decided to reduce troops to zero was getting those servicemembers out safely. “But, at that point, my focus was, how do I get these guys out of here without hurting somebody? And I’m going to be very honest with all of you. You want to talk about — I don’t usually get scared. I don’t. I was scared. And you know what I was afraid of? I was afraid I was going to lose somebody… Because we were worried about the Taliban post 1 May.” (Page 201, Lines 10-24).

General Miller described how Afghan districts fell as people saw the writing on the wall with the April 2021 Go-to-Zero order and switched sides. He attributed the Taliban’s victories to “psychological victories.” “[T]here weren’t a lot of battlefield victories towards the end. There was a lot of psychological victories. And it was similar to what happened in 2001, and that’s the people deciding, this fight’s over, the U.S. is leaving. So you arrest that just by sheer presence. So you slow that down. I don’t know that you stop it, but you certainly slow it down.” (Page 153, Lines 19-23).


General Miller foresaw the need for a Noncombatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) and warned an incoming Marine to prepare for it when the Biden administration made the decision not to pull out the U.S. Embassy along with the military:

Once the Go-to-Zero order was given by President Biden, General Miller recommended that U.S. Embassy Kabul leave along with the military, testifying, “Now the overarching concern is safeguarding our forces, safeguarding our diplomats. And so you want to try to get them out of the theater instead of having them linger in the theater.” (Page 129, Lines 12-15). General Miller recommended embassy personnel be drawn down in May 2021, testifying in his interview, “And, again, May is when this stuff is starting to — in my view, starting to already become readily apparent…And my view was that the — when we talked about going to zero, that everybody needed to go to zero pretty rapidly, not just the military.”(Page 176, Lines 7-12).

General Miller described how U.S. Embassy Kabul and the State Department ignored the need for military assistance and protection, and instead assumed they could maintain the U.S. diplomatic presence without any military. “There was this assumption of ‘we don’t need the military’ at first… And so this idea of a decision, ‘We can do this all on our own,’ changes over time to, ‘Well, maybe we need 50 military,’ ‘Maybe we need 100,’ ‘Maybe we need 150,’ ‘Maybe we need 600,’ you know, as it grew and grew.’” (Page 178, Lines 22-24; Page 179, Lines 9-11).

General Miller was asked about a May 8, 2021, meeting between State Department leadership and DoD leadership. General Miller was then presented with a statement made by former State Department Deputy Secretary for Management and Resource Brian McKeon to military leaders, in which McKeon said, “We at the State Department have a much higher risk tolerance than you guys.” General Miller responded to the committee that he disagreed – the State Department didn’t have a higher risk tolerance, but rather lacked an understanding of the risk. (Pages 196-198).

General Miller foresaw the need for a NEO and warned the incoming Marine commander to prepare for a NEO, testifying “And I wasn’t going to add this, but I will. I actually talked to the Marine commander who was going to go in there early, and I said, ‘You’re going to do a NEO at some point, because we’re not doing the things we need to do to avoid a NEO. And we’re going to do it probably under some really adverse conditions.’ I said, “It’s going to be up to you.” I said, “I would tailor your force. I would pick… your most mature Marines you have and retask, organize. Because it’s going to be really hard.” (Page 197, Lines 4-11). General Miller stated that the State Department requested the NEO far too late. (Page 199, Lines 21- 22).

General Miller stated that the State Department requested the NEO far too late. (Page 199, Lines 21-22). When asked if he believed that soldiers had to assume greater risk because the State Department was unprepared to evacuate, General Miller responded, “if the building’s already on fire before you start evacuating it, it’s a much more challenging evacuation.” (Page 200, Lines 2-3).


General Miller described extensive and helpful engagement with the Trump administration in contrast to a Biden State Department that never sought out his advice or assessments:

General Miller testified that, under the Trump administration, State Department leadership engaged extensively with him on Afghanistan, stating “Secretary Pompeo, we talked a lot, as well as Gina Haspel, as Director of the CIA, and the Chairman and others, to try to and the Secretary of Defense – – trying to understand the problems that were available. It was helpful.”(Page 47, Lines 10-12).

When asked about engagement by State Department leadership under the Biden administration, General Miller testified that Secretary Blinken did not speak with him over the course of his tenure as commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (Page 50, Lines 12-17). Secretary Blinken never directly sought General Miller’s assessments regarding Taliban compliance with the Doha Agreement (Page 51, Lines 18-20).

General Miller testified that NATO allies were not pleased with the United States’ decision to draw troops to zero, necessitating their withdrawal, testifying, “they certainly were unhappy, and they voiced that unhappiness in different publications.” (Page 137, Line 1).