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This is the fourth a part of a Fox News Digital Originals sequence in regards to the fall of Kabul and the hectic and heroic 96-hour effort to evacuate Afghans fearing retribution from the Taliban. Part 1Part 2Part 3

President Biden’s high military advisers ought to have predicted Afghanistan’s imminent collapse – after which supplied their resignations if the commander in chief refused to change his withdrawal plans, a former deputy commander instructed Fox News.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and Central Command head Gen. Kenneth McKenzie had a accountability to face agency in the event that they believed the fast-paced troop withdrawal would finish in disaster, retired Marine Col. Andrew Milburn instructed Fox News.

“Can you imagine if those three or even two out of three had offered their resignation?” Milburn, a former Special Operations Central deputy commander, mentioned. “You don’t think that might have caused the president to think twice?”

He argued that each one three are merchandise of a tradition the military has fostered that favors leaders who’re obedient, slightly than principled freethinkers.

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“I think they’re products of a culture that has arisen within the U.S. military that simply does not encourage innovative thinking or creative thinking,” Milburn, who spent 31 years within the military, instructed Fox News. “That rewards perhaps obedience above all else.”

“I think within our organizations, the Joint Force, we sadly have a culture that does not always see the most strong-willed creative thinkers rise to the top,” he continued. “It’s a culture that I think is amiss.”

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 28: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (C) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley (L) and Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie (R) testify during a hearing before Senate Armed Services Committee at Dirksen Senate Office Building September 28, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held the hearing "to receive testimony on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations." (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 28: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (C) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley (L) and Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie (R) testify throughout a listening to earlier than Senate Armed Services Committee at Dirksen Senate Office Building September 28, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held the listening to “to receive testimony on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

‘The ultimate sanction’

To date, nobody has been held accountable for failing to foretell the Taliban’s swift seizure of Kabul whereas U.S. residents nonetheless inhabited the town. Milburn mentioned the Afghan authorities’s collapse ought to have been apparent.

“How are these three holding themselves responsible? I’ve seen all three of them during the 90-day period use that term,” Milburn mentioned of Austin, Milley and McKenzie.

“It’s very difficult to explain exactly what that means if you continue in office,” he added. “Holding yourself responsible often is a prelude to resignation. Not always, but … that’s really the ultimate sanction. So, it is hard to take them seriously.”

Milburn mentioned the trio has “rendered their own words hollow.”

He pointed to a Sept. 28 Senate Armed Services Committee listening to the place Milley testified that he wouldn’t resign as a result of the service members in Kabul couldn’t refuse their orders. The basic mentioned it could be unfair to desert his duties whereas enlisted males couldn’t.

Milburn instructed Fox News that Milley’s testimony “showed that he didn’t have a good understanding of his professional ethics” and referred to as his reasoning “illogical.”

While explaining why he didn’t resign, Milley additionally testified that the nation “does not want generals figuring out what orders we are going to accept.” He emphasised the significance of civilian management of the military.

WATCH “SNAFU – The Last 96, Part 4”:

SNAFU – The Last 96, Part 4Video

But Milburn mentioned the American public’s needs aren’t “really the only arbiter of making that moral decision because … his oath was to the Constitution.”

“It’s not necessarily, what the American public would like,” Milburn continued. “It is what does he feel his duty to the Constitution is. Not to any particular person.”

Milley additionally testified that he solely serves as an adviser to the president and that the commander in chief can select to disregard his counsel.

While Milburn agreed, he additionally mentioned that if Austin and McKenzie gave the identical recommendation, {that a} specific order might trigger a disaster as unhealthy because the Afghanistan withdrawal, “wouldn’t you make a firmer stand?”

“That is the time to stand your ground and simply say, ‘no boss. I’ll give you my resignation,'” Milburn instructed Fox News. “That should be our collective expectation of these people.”

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 29: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley testifies during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Ending the U.S. Military Mission in Afghanistan in the Rayburn House Office Building at the U.S. Capitol on September 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 29: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley testifies throughout a House Armed Services Committee listening to on Ending the U.S. Military Mission in Afghanistan within the Rayburn House Office Building on the U.S. Capitol on September 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images)

Such a transfer wouldn’t be unprecedented. James Mattis, former President Trump’s first protection secretary, vacated his publish after repeated disagreements with the commander in chief.

“You have a right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

Milburn additionally argued that Biden’s military leaders ought to have deliberate for the Taliban’s fast takeover, even when it was thought of unlikely.

“No one really without any sense of foresight could say [Biden] will yank [the troops] out and the Afghan government will not collapse,” he instructed Fox News.

“Certainly as military planners, you always have some contingency plan, no matter how unlikely you think an event is to occur,” Milburn added. “If the events are going to be catastrophic, you plan for that.”

“Ignoring the ramifications of any decision that you make or order that you pass, I suppose would come within that category of SNAFU,” he mentioned.

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Ultimately, uniformed leaders have to know when to face towards superiors to greatest serve the nation, Milburn argued.

“As a military professional, our duty isn’t simply to follow orders,” he instructed Fox News. “There is a point where if we see something that is happening catastrophic to the institution, then doesn’t our oath to the Constitution obligate us to take action?

Yet McKenzie didn’t act on a top Taliban leader’s suggestion the U.S. take responsibility for security over all of Kabul during the evacuation, the four-star general testified during a Sept. 29 House Armed Services Committee hearing. He said he was unsure if that offer was presented to Biden.

“That was not why I used to be there, that was not my instruction,” McKenzie told the panel. “I didn’t contemplate that to be a proper supply and it was not the explanation why I used to be there, so I didn’t pursue it,” McKenzie told the panel.

The Taliban ultimately took point on securing the Kabul airport. An ISIS-K suicide bomber bypassed the Taliban’s checkpoints and killed at least 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members.

Austin’s ‘chronic decision-phobia’

Milburn said poor leadership is standard and that bad decisions from the top – even minor ones – amplify down the ladder.

He repeated a joke Marines often told: “What is the distinction between the Marine Corps and the Boy Scouts of America? The Boy Scouts have grownup management.”

It was the kind of joke used “to mitigate your sense of powerlessness” from “the underside of the pyramid,” Milburn told Fox News. In the military, “the outcomes of ineffective management or inefficiency or simply minor errors are felt vastly at form of the tail finish of the whip.”

Austin, for his part, built a reputation for “power decision-phobia” – fearing decision-making – when he headed Central Command, Milburn wrote in a Task and Purpose op-ed the place he referred to as on the secretary to resign.

FILE - In this June 17, 2021 file photo, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley talk before a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool via AP)

FILE – In this June 17, 2021 file photograph, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley discuss earlier than a Senate Appropriations Committee listening to on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool through AP)
(Evelyn Hockstein/Pool through AP)

Failure to make selections “causes a great deal of frustration beneath you,” Milburn instructed Fox News. “A lot of us would rather have a tyrannical commander than one who simply avoided decisions because at the tail end of the whip, that causes all kinds of confusion.”

In the military, “the most important thing you have is your reputation,” the retired colonel instructed Fox News. “It’s not even rank, it’s not necessarily authority at any given time. It’s the ability for you to inspire people, especially those beneath you.”

Milburn flagged a program that failed horribly underneath Austin when he served as the highest commander within the Middle East.

The Defense (*96*) launched a $500 million program in December 2014 to coach 5,400 Syrian fighters a yr to assist the U.S. fight ISIS. The following September, Austin instructed the Senate Armed Services Committee that solely “four or five” trainees have been combating In Syria.

The program was shuttered weeks later.

“It just seemed incomprehensible to me that there were no ramifications for him aside from, I assume, just being embarrassed,” he instructed Fox News. “Can you imagine anyone not getting fired for that kind of mismanagement? But somehow he survived.”

Milburn mentioned it most likely prompted “irreparable damage” to Central Command and to the military.

“What we saw during the closing days of the fall of Kabul, who can deny that those images were disastrous to just our credibility as a nation?” Milburn added.

The Pentagon declined to remark.

Matt Leach contributed to this report.