US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley spoke about how veterans are feeling upon the conclusion of the decades-long war in Afghanistan.
Mr Austin, a retired general who served as head of US Central Command and who led troops in Afghanistan, said he knew that the ending of the war had been “difficult days” for many who served. He said that he hoped people would look back at their service with thoughtfulness and respect.
“I will always be proud of the part that we played in this war,” he said during a Pentagon briefing on Wednesday. “But, we shouldn't expect Afghan war veterans to agree any more than any other group of Americans.”
Mr Austin said he has heard strong opinions from people with differing points of view in recent days.
“That's vital. That's democracy. That's America,” he said.
Mr Milley, who has since become a lightning rod for criticism for many on the right, including former president Donald Trump, addressed what he viewed as “pain and anger” among some veterans.
“I commanded troops and I wasn’t born a four-star general,” he said. “My pain and anger comes from the same as the grieving family, the same as the soldiers on the ground.”
Mr Milley added that he had visited wounded veterans at Walter Reed Medical Center.
“This is tough stuff,” he said. “War is hard. It’s vicious, it’s brutal, it’s unforgiving. And yes, we all have pain and anger. And when we see what has unfolded over the last 20 years and over the last 20 days, that creates pain and anger.”
The chairman said his came from 242 of his soldiers being killed in action during the 20 years of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies