Four-star Gen. Mark Milley was retiring on Friday following a four-year tenure as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Milley was handing over the reins to Gen. Charles “C.Q.” Brown, who was confirmed by the Senate last week following a months-long blockade on military nominations by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), obstructing hundreds of military promotions in protest of the government’s paying for service members and their families to travel across state lines to obtain abortions.
As Chair, Gen. Milley has overseen successes like the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and supporting Ukraine in its 19-month-long war against Russia.
However, Milley also oversaw the botched August 2021 withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, amid which a member of the terrorist organization ISIS-K detonated a suicide bomb near Kabul airport, killing 13 U.S. service members and wounding 20 others.
But under the shadow of that disaster, Milley had words of credit for the men and women who had served in uniform since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.
“Since then, the men and women of the United States military and our interagency partners have fought tirelessly to defeat terrorists in Afghanistan and around the world, both at home and abroad. Their talent, their efforts have carried this fight day and night,” Milley said in a joint briefing with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on September 1, 2021, further noting that “for the past 20 years, there’s not been a major attack on our Homeland.”
Milley was promoted to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in 2019 after being nominated by then-President Trump. Clashes between the pair would blaze in the headlines up to and including Milley’s last week on duty.
In 2020 Milley publicly apologized for joining Trump as he marched from the White House to a nearby church for a photo opportunity after authorities cleared Black Lives Matter protesters by using tear gas and rubber bullets.
In a “60 Minutes” interview set to air this Sunday on CBS, Milley said he has taken “appropriate measures” to ensure his safety after Trump posted about the the four-star General on his platform Truth Social.
In the posting, Trump wrote that Milley had committed an act “so egregious” when he called officials in China to reassure them in the aftermath of the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, that “in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH.”
Milley’s phone call had been explicitly authorized by officials in the Trump Administration.
During a ceremony Friday honoring Milley, President Biden noted that the outgoing Chairman was a “combat infantryman, a master parachuter, a Green Beret, a warrior who served a total of five years in war zones from Panama to Haiti to Bosnia to Afghanistan to Iraq, with a chest full of medals to show for it.”
Milley in his own outgoing remarks thanked others for their service, including Medal of Honor recipients, wounded warriors, the active military members currently standing guard around the world and gold star families.
“You are in fact the most capable and lethal military force in the world today, and in all given history,” said Milley.