General Mark Milley stepped down Friday as the top US military officer with a parting swipe at his former boss Donald Trump, saying no soldier ever swore an oath to serve a “wannabe dictator.”

The stunning rebuke from Milley on his last day as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff illustrated the way the US military has been dragged into the increasingly volatile political arena since the Trump era.

At an elaborate military ceremony for his departure -- attended by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and President Joe Biden -- Milley did not name Trump, but there was no doubt about the target of his barb.

“We don’t take an oath to a king, or queen, or a tyrant or a dictator,” Milley said of American soldiers. “And we don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator.”

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Milley will be replaced as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by Air Force General Charles “CQ” Brown -- just the second African American to hold the top military job.

A barrel-chested army veteran of countless foreign deployments and high-level command posts, Milley served in uniform for four decades.

But he faced his highest-stakes challenge when Trump appointed him in 2019 to the career pinnacle of senior military advisor to the president.

During a four-year term -- continuing under Biden from 2021 -- Milley managed the harrowing exit of US troops from Afghanistan, special forces operations in Syria, and the enormous program to assist Ukraine’s desperate fight against Russian invasion.

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On Thursday, the Russian defense ministry announced the capture of Pobeda ('victory' in Russian), a frontline village about five kilometers (three miles) west of Donetsk city.

As chairman, “it was one crisis right after another,” Milley told AFP last month.

Milley’s years at the top, however, also saw the military involved in an unusual number of politicized controversies.

While the Biden administration has pressed for changes including renaming bases named after Confederate leaders in the Civil War, senior Republicans have repeatedly lashed out at what they claim are “woke” leftist policies in the ranks.

And that was nothing compared to the precarious situation Milley found himself in during the lead-up to and aftermath of the 2020 presidential election -- in which Trump, in an unprecedented political nightmare for the United States, refused to accept defeat.

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At the height of tensions after Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, Milley secretly called his Chinese counterpart to reassure Beijing that the United States remained “stable” and had no intention to attack China, according to the book “Peril” by Bob Woodward.

That revelation has caused lasting fury for Trump, who just this month wrote on his social media network that “in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH!” for Milley.

- Threats and attacks -

The barely veiled threat from Trump -- the clear frontrunner to be the Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential election -- prompted Milley to take “appropriate measures” for his safety, he told CBS News.

Biden lashed out Thursday during a speech at Trump’s “heinous statements” and attacked the “deafening” silence from Trump’s fellow Republicans on the threat.

Milley’s replacement, chosen by Biden, will become the second Black top Joint Chiefs officer after Colin Powell. Austin, meanwhile, is the country’s first Black secretary of defense.

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Brown -- who officially takes the reins from Milley at midnight (0400 GMT) on Saturday -- was commissioned as a US Air Force officer in 1984 and is an experienced pilot with more than 3,000 flight hours, 130 of them in combat.

Brown, known to most as “CQ,” even once survived ejecting from an F-16 during training over Florida.

He has commanded a fighter squadron and two fighter wings, as well as US air forces under the Central Command and Indo-Pacific Command, and served as chief of staff of the Air Force.

Following the 2020 murder of Black man George Floyd by a white police officer in Minnesota, Brown recorded an emotional video about his personal experiences, including with discrimination in the American military.

He said he felt pressure to “perform error-free,” and worked “twice as hard” to prove wrong those who expected less of him because of his race.

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Comments (4)

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Christopher
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He should have ateppwd down before Bidens Afghanistan pullout!

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Imokru2
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This article was written by an anonymous writer at AFP (Agence France-Presse) a news agency based in Paris. Members of the French government serve on its board of directors and the government provides subsidies to the organization. It is generally understood that France is morally weak and leans left. So does this news agency of course.

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Imokru2
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Like Lincoln’s incompetent General George McLellan, Milley attacks his own commander in chief.
I am overwhelmed with joy that this is the last time I will need to respond to this buffoon.
Milley might have said to one of his officers: “Well, I suppose that when I die that you will spit on my grave.” “No sir, I will never stand in line again”.

PMH
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@Imokru2,

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Alibee
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Calling Trump's remark about the penalty for treason - by Milley - a veiled threat, or any sort of a threat, is pretty ridiculous, and childish. It was clearly nothing of the sort. It was simply a statement that Miley was presumptuous, and out of line, for taking it upon himself to make statements about national policy, in private, to his Chinese counterpart.

Besides, only an idiot would think that calling China to "reassure" them about what was little more than a protest that had some violent, riotous behavior added in, would actually project strength, rather than Nervous Memoir weakness. There was no chance, ever, that the Jan 6 protest would in itself presage some sort of unconventional usurpation of power, and pretending that it could was merely a Democrat political ploy to demonize the protest and the airing of grievances by the protesters. The fact that Miley took this opportunity to inflate his own self-importance by treasonously making statements to his Chinese counterpart behind the backs of the President and the Secretary of Defense shows you immediately what a true coward he actually is.

Trump has his faults, but the one who acted traitorously around Jan 6 was not Trump, but Milley.

Imokru2
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@Alibee, Sort of like Gen. George B. McLellan in the 1860’s?

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