Former Pentagon boss: Delay in Afghanistan after-action reports raises fear of political meddling

"There's probably some concern that it doesn't paint the rosy picture that the Biden administration has said," Christopher Miller says.
Acting SecDef Christopher Miller

The Trump administration's last Pentagon chief is warning that the Biden administration's delayed release of military after-action reports on the bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan is keeping Washington from learning lessons and raising fears of political meddling.

"What I understand is [the report] has been kicked back down to those that wrote it because of some sort of concern that I don't know exactly what the concerns are. But I can tell you that lessons learned and after-action reviews save lives. And we're not seeing that right now," Former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller told the "Just the News, Not Noise" television show Thursday night.

Asked why there's a delay Miller added: "I have to think that there's probably some concern that it doesn't paint the rosy picture that the Biden administration has said."

The Pentagon press office did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday regarding Miller's comments.

The Biden administration has defended its withdrawal strategy, which cost the lives of 13 Marines in a suicide bombing, saying earlier this week that the president "refused to send another generation of Americans to fight a war that should have ended long ago."

Miller, a retired Army special forces officer, was directly involved in the early U.S. military operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He is the second major figure to raise concerns that the Defense Department's after-action reports have not been released a full year after the withdrawal.

Rep. Ted Budd, now the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in North Carolina, wrote the Pentagon late last month that it "has been 11 months since the Biden Administration mismanaged the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan" and "Department of Defense (DOD) leadership has offered little insight to the public into how failures in intelligence and execution occurred."

He urged Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin not to withhold the after-action reports from the American public. "The Pentagon should strive to avoid even the appearance that its leaders withhold unclassified information because those findings could shine an unfavorable light on its leadership," he wrote.

Miller said after-action reports aren't designed to be an exercise in blame but rather an education process to save future lives.

"This isn't just a paper," he said. "So young people that are entering the service, the way you learn not to make mistakes from the past is by reading about the mistakes that have happened previously. It's really, really powerful process that they use ... I'm really hopeful that they do the right thing, because this is about our country."

He added: "I came in the Army in 1983. And I was trained by Vietnam veterans. And they all said never again. I never thought it would happen again in our lifetime. And of course, I was part of the loss of the war in Afghanistan. So we have to get those lessons learned out to the forces and to the American people so that we don't do this again."