TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Former President Donald Trump called a United States top general a “f—— idiot” Saturday while speaking about the military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
In a video posted to Twitter, Trump is seen criticizing the exit strategy, saying that when he planned the withdrawal, he wanted to secure all American equipment.
“I said, the moment we get out, I want every nut, every bolt, every screw … we’re taking everything,” Trump said.
He then goes on to recount a story in which General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, supposedly told him it was cheaper to leave the equipment than to fly it back.
“That’s when I realized he was a f—— idiot,” Trump said.
In his speech, Trump continued to push the narrative that the U.S. left behind $85 billion of equipment, but an AP fact check found that those numbers are heavily inflated and misused. The $85 billion figure is what the U.S. spent on developing Afghanistan since 2001. That includes troop training, pay, and other infrastructure costs over two decades of U.S. involvement.
The AP assessment found that only $18 billion was spent on equipping Afghans between 2002 and 2018, according to a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction in June 2019.
In addition, a defense policy analyst said much of the equipment would have been obsolete or scrapped.
Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie said in August that 27 Humvees and 73 aircraft were disabled by Americans so they can never be used again. U.S. forces also disabled the Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar System as one of their last actions.
In a testimony made to a congressional committee, Milley himself called the war a “strategic failure” and said the U.S. needed to consider whether it made the Afghan government too dependent on foreign aid.
“We helped build a state, but we could not forge a nation,” he told the Senate committee. “The fact that the Afghan army we and our partners trained simply melted away – in many cases without firing a shot – took us all by surprise. It would be dishonest to claim otherwise.”