Reporter’s Notebook: A US general makes peace in Afghanistan

Reporter’s Notebook: A US general makes peace in Afghanistan

Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller is going to need all the experience he’s gained during decades in the Army, including with Special Forces in such hot spots as Mogadishu, Anbar province in Iraq, and yes, after 9/11 in Afghanistan.
 
As commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, it’s the compact and fit 58-year-old’s job to see that the military side of the just-inked U.S.-Taliban peace deal goes forward. 
 
For example, he had to verify that a 7-day partial truce between the Taliban and Afghanistan preceding the peace pact was observed. It was.
 
“The reduction in violence was a confidence builder,” he told Fox News in a recent interview. “We saw the lowest level (of violence) since 2016 across the country.”

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In fact, to prove a point, Miller took to the streets of Kabul last week with the acting Afghan defense minister, reportedly without a big security contingent. They greeted the locals, and took some selfies, to boot.  

Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller shared with Fox News' Greg Palkot the reduction of US troops in Afghanistan is "an optimization of forces."

Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller shared with Fox News’ Greg Palkot the reduction of US troops in Afghanistan is “an optimization of forces.” (Tim Santhouse/Fox News)

“We’re very serious about our obligations and we expect the Taliban will be serious about their obligations,” Miller told us.  “Violence cannot go back up. It’s got to go down.”
 
The deal calls for the reduction of U.S. troops in Afghanistan from the current 13,000 to 8,600 over the next four and half months. Miller told Fox News he can live with that. 
 
“I view it as an optimization of forces,” he said.  “We retain all capabilities to provide support for the Afghan security forces because that commitment is important.”
 
More concerning to some analysts is that the deal calls for the total withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops after another nine and half months.  U.S. officials stress that’s based on the Taliban meeting the agreement’s conditions, including severing ties with terror groups and negotiating with the Afghan government.

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Miller says he’ll be keeping an eye out.
 
“We have the means and the capabilities to monitor and verify,” he asserted.

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At a ceremony in Kabul this weekend to mark the agreement, attended by Defense Secretary Esper, NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg and others, Miller, in his dress uniform, could be seen working the crowd, including a range of top and colorful Afghan officials.

In the end though, he told us the 18-year-long war was about “…safeguarding our national interest” and “protecting home.”  Asked if he kept in mind some 2,400 U.S. service members who have lost their lives during that time, he replied, “…they will always be remembered.”

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