Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller issued a memo on Saturday to the entire Defense Department that hinted of a coming U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The two-page memo was released early Saturday morning, just after midnight, in his first department-wide message after being appointed by President Donald Trump earlier this week. Miller took the place of Mark Esper, who was fired for resisting Trump on a number of issues.
He spoke of continuing to transform the department in order to compete in a “new strategic environment,” which requires “changes in organizations, skills, and decision-making processes.
“We will continue to aggressively challenge established paradigms, maintain and modify those that have value, and courageously discard those that have run their course,” he wrote.
He said the U.S. must continue to defeat al Qaida, the terrorist organization responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks, but appeared to differentiate it from wars that require a U.S. troop presence, and he talked about the need to end “perpetual war” and bring troops home.
As we prepare for the future, we remain committed to finishing the war that Al Qaida brought to our shores in 2001. This war isn’t over. We are on the verge of defeating Al Qaida and its associates, but we must avoid our past strategic error of failing to see the fight through to the finish. Indeed, this fight has been long, our sacrifices have been enormous, and many are weary of war – I’m one of them – but this is the critical phase in which we transition our efforts from a leadership to supporting role. We are not a people of perpetual war – it is the antithesis of everything for which we stand and for which our ancestors fought. All wars must end.
Ending wars requires compromise and partnership. We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Now, it’s time to come home. As I consider the scarring but ennobling experience many of us have undergone during this war, the words of Abraham Lincoln during his second Inaugural Address bring me strength, perspective, and confidence:
‘With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.’·
To all of our Soldiers, Sailors. Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, Space Professionals, and civilians: Continue to be bold. Continue to be courageous. Continue to set the example of selfless service that is the envy of the world and an example for our citizens. Our tasks are not easy. The burden is great. But together we will take our Nation to new heights. What a magnificent time to be a part of the Department of Defense and the United States Armed Forces. Our Nation needs you, and I’m enormously proud of you. I am humbled and honored to be on your team.
JUST RELEASED from the acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller: pic.twitter.com/k9VxNTwjb1
— Kristina Wong 🇺🇸 (@kristina_wong) November 14, 2020