WASHINGTON -- Pulling American troops prematurely from Afghanistan would be a "strategic mistake," the Army general nominated to be Joint Chiefs chairman told senators Thursday. Mark Milley also said the United States should keep a "modest number" of forces in Iraq and Syria for now to maintain stability.

Milley assured the Senate Armed Services Committee that he will give his candid advice to President Donald Trump regardless of any potential consequences to himself.

"We've buried soldiers. Arlington is full of our comrades. We understand absolutely full well the hazards of our chosen profession," Milley said, in response to questions from Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, about whether he would be willing to tell Trump that he thought the president was wrong on any issue. "We know what this is about and we are not going to be intimidated into making stupid decisions."

The 61-year-old Milley, who is Trump's pick to replace Gen. Joseph Dunford, said "no one, ever" would intimidate him.

He received a friendly reception from the committee and appears headed for an easy confirmation. Milley is combat-hardened veteran of multiple tours in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including as a senior commander.

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