During an interview with Fox News National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin aired on Saturday’s “Fox Report,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said that the speed of the collapse of Afghanistan’s military and government was a surprise, and “what you saw unfold with this noncombatant evacuation operation was one of the contingency plans.” And “There was an extensive amount of planning in this.”
Milley said, [relevant remarks begin around 2:20] “I think a couple of things. One, is the collapse of the Afghan Army happened at a much faster rate and very unexpected, by pretty much everybody, and then with that is the collapse of the Afghan government. So, that was definitely a surprise. But I will say that there was an awful lot of planning done, ROC drills, rehearsals, etc. And what you saw unfold with this noncombatant evacuation operation was one of the contingency plans. And the speed at which it was executed, the flow of the aircraft, we had planes taking off every 30 to 45 minutes or so. We had — we brought in 7,000 — or 6,000 U.S. troops, and then there [were] about a thousand or more or so Afghan troops that secured HKIA. The first day, it was clearly chaotic, no question about it. You saw that on video, etc. But within about 24 hours, that settled down and it became a much more orderly process. The security of HKIA was challenging to say the least, and we saw the bombing. But that would have happened no matter where it was. People talk about Bagram, wherever there’s a perimeter, if there’s no outside force, if there’s no Afghan force securing it, and there wasn’t any, then there’s going to be U.S. forces on the perimeter, on the edge. And they were doing what they were asked to do, which is go out and screen and process people.”
He continued, “So, were there — there’s a lot of lessons learned. And I think we’re going to go through that in a very systematic way. I know we are on the Joint Staff. I know Central Command will. And I’m sure the other departmental agencies will. From a military standing point though — military planning standpoint…those plans were done in detail. … There was an extensive amount of planning in this.”
Milley further stated that when the Afghan government and military collapsed, it forced a change of plans due to the “permissive” environment.