With the number of American and NATO troops withdrawing and the mission in Afghanistan winding down, Operation Resolute Mission is nearly complete. So, the commander of all U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, General Austin “Scott” Miller is also stepping down marking the end of an era. 

Miller had commanded the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan since August 2018, longer than any previous commander.

CENTCOM Will Take Over

With Miller stepping down, the command of U.S. Forces Afghanistan will now fall to the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie. McKenzie’s headquarters at Tampa, FL, or his forward headquarters located at Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar will now take responsibility for the remaining troops.

CENTCOM already has overall responsibility for troops in Afghanistan and neighboring countries. After the initial U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a NATO-led military mission in Afghanistan, was established by the UN Security Council in December 2001. The ISAF mission ceased combat operations and was disbanded in December 2014, with some of the remaining troops transitioning to an advisory role as part of ISAF’s successor organization, the Resolute Support Mission. Now, nearly 20 years later, that mission is coming to an end. 

General Miller Steps Down Signaling the End of an Era
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin walks with the commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, Army Gen. Scott Miller, at Resolute Support Headquarters, Kabul, Afghanistan, March 21, 2021. (DoD)

Last year, the Trump administration signed a peace deal with the Taliban to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by May 1. However, the Pentagon recently announced that the withdrawal of troops should be completed by August 31, a few days ahead of President Biden’s revised September 11 withdrawal date. 

The U.S. is expected to keep 650 troops in Afghanistan to help secure the U.S. Embassy and its personnel and help in securing the Hamid Karzai International Airport.

General Miller, at the end of June, said that the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan is edging the country closer to civil war. While Miller pointed out that at that time he had the resources available to aid the Afghan National Army, he didn’t know what those resources would look like in the future. 

“It is a political settlement that [will bring] peace to Afghanistan. And it’s not just the last 20 years. It’s really the last 42 years,” he said referring to the Soviet invasion of the country and the Taliban’s subsequent rise to power.