A Republican legislator is pushing to impeach Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin over the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal and for promoting a “woke” military culture that has allegedly contributed to recruiting woes.
“The guy has failed,” Rep. Cory Mills, an Army veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, told Fox News Digital.
“Not only do we have a 25,000-plus recruitment shortage, but there were 8,400 people who were unconstitutionally purged from the military … you’ve got pronouns and DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] being taught at our military academies when we need to be focusing on what the next threat is and how we mitigate it.”
Mills’ comments come after the Florida Republican had a testy exchange with Austin at last week’s House Armed Services Committee hearing, where Mills presented Austin with articles of impeachment.
“Not only do I believe that you should have resigned … I myself perceive this as a dereliction of duty, and I take that very seriously,” Mills told Austin during the hearing before recounting what he believed were Austin’s failures during the Afghanistan withdrawal. “Political optics was placed above the true military strategy, where we should have held Bagram Air Base, held the detention center … not shut down and entrap Americans by taking over HKIA (Hamid Karazai International Airport), the commercial airspace and abandoning thousands of Americans.”
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Rep. Cory Mills, R-Fla., left, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images / File | Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images / File)
“I have already drafted my articles of impeachment for the dereliction of duty,” Mills continued. “I do feel there needs to be accountability at the top and at the highest levels, and I hope that we can get true accountability with future hearings and investigations and your testimonies that would actually either substantiate or discredit my beliefs.”
Mills told Fox News Digital he has received support from colleagues who want to move forward with the impeachment process against Austin.
“We already have quite a few … a lot of members who want to go ahead and sign on to this,” Mills said. “I will make sure that I submit this forward so that it can be considered for additional investigations and hearings for Secretary Austin.”
The Florida Republican argued that it comes down to a “dereliction of duty” for Austin, starting with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, for which he says the defense secretary has failed to take adequate responsibility.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / Pool / AFP / File)
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Mills echoed his comments at the hearing, pointing to the closure of Bagram Air Base and the grounding of commercial flights in Kabul as key moments that led to the U.S. exit from Afghanistan going sideways. Thirteen U.S. service members were killed in an attack in Kabul during the chaos, and Mills said Austin has failed to hold himself accountable for it.
Mills said that in hearings Austin has boasted about his 41 years of military experience and the fact that he helped establish Bagram Air Base, something Mills argues only means Austin “should know better” than to close down the key installation.
Mills said that many officers on the ground could be relieved of duty for the failures that unfolded in Afghanistan and that Austin shouldn’t be held to a separate standard because of his position.
“The secretary of state or secretary of defense shouldn’t be treated any differently and in fact should be judged more harshly,” Mills said. “Because accountability, actual failures and successes, start at the top.”
Rep. Cory Mills, R-Fla. (Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images / File)
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Mills also argued that the failures in Afghanistan and a transition to more woke policies have contributed to the largest military recruiting shortfall in decades, something for which he says Austin shares blame.
“We are failing and falling behind,” Mills said. “If you look at what’s occurring, the failure to get a Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq, the failure to have a complete and cohesive military strategic objective, whether it’s in Syria or an of the other things, this is on him as secretary of defense, and I look at that as a dereliction of duty.”