Truth, lies and Afghanistan

| February 7, 2012

Blackfive and Instinct sent us this link to the Armed Forces Journal in piece written by LTC Daniel Davis about how he feels that the military is lying to the public about conditions in Afghanistan;

I spent last year in Afghanistan, visiting and talking with U.S. troops and their Afghan partners. My duties with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force took me into every significant area where our soldiers engage the enemy. Over the course of 12 months, I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces.

What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.

He goes on to recount several incidents to illustrate why he’s bucking the official Army line. Apparently, there’s also a classified report that Davis wrote for his bosses which paints an equally bleak picture of the war in Afghanistan. I can’t say that I’m surprised at all. I’ve said countless times that if this how we’re going to fight the war, we should just pull the troops out now.

This Administration has set withdrawal as it’s primary goal in Afghanistan, the military is one part of that administration and their goals reflect the goals of their chiefs – so their reports are going to be what their bosses want to hear. There is little use for facts in a bureaucracy.

Davis reports that many of the Afghans he met under fire were reluctant to confront the Taliban. And i can’t really blame them completely. When we finally execute our grand victorious withdrawal, they have to continue to live there, and the Taliban will move back in. It’s been a concern of the Afghans since we arrived there.

Our national commitment to eradicating the Taliban has been lacking since the first US soldier stepped on Afghan soil. Yeah, they’re a bunch of cowards who won’t stick their necks for their own country, but our presence hasn’t inspired them to pick up their banner. What with the theme of every election which threatened withdrawal.

Of course, we have to keep in mind that this is only one LTC’s point of view, but apparently he feels strongly enough about it to endanger his career.

ADDED: Also thanks to Nicki and Country Singer who also sent the links to this while I was taking my sweet time writing about it.

Category: Terror War

Comments (18)

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  1. Hotel1 says:

    Just started watching first half of Armadillo.
    My first thought was this is how Vietnam was fought.
    Just missed it by “that much”, Parris Island Sept 1975.

    Need to finish movie but the “we own the village by day and the Taliban own it at night” was illuminating…

    Population will never support you if there is no real security.

  2. NSOM says:

    The war in Afghanistan was set on an unwavering path toward mitigated defeat in 2008. All of this since has been politics and posturing. Right or wrong the current administration and the majority of the American people are not willing to pay the price of victory. I’m afraid reports like these are too little to late but there is value in using this as a lesson learned to examine how the military’s “never say die” attitude can overcome candor at the highest levels.

  3. OldCavLt says:

    If only all of our leadership had the guts to give us the truth as they see it. To his career, we can all say “RIP.”

    To the man for speaking truth to power, you have my ever-lasting thanks.

  4. Doc Bailey says:

    Half a league half a league onward,
    all in the valley of Death rode the 600. . .

    Those lines from another war that was just as poorly led, seems quite apt.

  5. SGT Kane says:

    *insert standard boilerplate about this being my opinion and does not reflect the opinion or views of the Army, DoD, USACAPOC, etc*

    Also a warning for crude imagery and foul language.

    A wise man once said “It’s better to be loved than feared, but it’s better to be feared than nothing at all”. The problem is that we are firmly in the “nothing at all” category because we are unwilling to be feared.

    We are like Johns prowling hooker row in Vegas, showering the girls with big bills and thinking because they give us a discount on a bj from time to time that they like us.

    The reality is they are laughing at how pathetic we are and more worried about what their pimp is going to do to them if they don’t make their numbers than what we think. They know, down to the penny and sex act, what they have to do to keep us coming back.

    Afghanistan (and to a certain extent Iraq) are exactly the same way. Once they knew we weren’t coming back, they knew they had to do less and less to keep us happy. After all what’s the point?

    But it goes even further back than that, what has been the cost of them doing nothing?

    If we accept the premise that we are at war with a small minority of people and ideology, surrounded by a larger group of people who are simply going to act in their own best interest (the human condition) what is the cost to the second group if they don’t support the first group?

    Its high. Death. Torture. Maiming. Or at least that is the perception and the first group knows enough to keep this meme alive.

    Now, what is the cost to the second group of not supporting us?

    Its low. A slap on the wrist. The threat of cutting off some funding.

    There’s no serious stick to it. And without a stick, carrots are useless.

    Our crazy ROE’s and the hand wringing in press every time we did something “bad” ruined things for us as much as some of the more public misses (such as the unilateral disbanding of all police and military units, the decision to not enforce existing rules of law, poor economic decisions, etc).

  6. NHSparky says:

    There is little use for facts in a bureaucracy.

    Jonn also awarded one Internets for the day.

    Rickover, the KOG, had it dead on when he said, “If you have to choose between sinning against God or the bureaucracy, choose God. He’ll forgive you–the bureaucracy won’t.”

  7. DaveO says:

    NSOM, I disagree only with the date: 2002. When Bush-43 set the limit of advance as the Pak and Iranian borders, the Taliban won the campaign.

  8. NSOM says:

    re #7

    I don’t know, there were a lot of things that could have changed in that time frame, including the restrictive pursuit policy. Amongst many other things we could have avoided tying ourselves to a useless, even counter productive, Karzai government. There was still a will and a way, even if each passing year made it more unlikely.

    It was only when the American people elected a Progressive anti-war Democrat with visions of transformative domestic policies and both a promise to end the wars and a personal willingness to do so at any cost were we, as a nation, committed to defeat.

  9. bobthebuilder says:

    reposted from , and this commentary was in line with my initial impressions of the disgruntled colonel..

    I know this guy and he works near me.

    Bottom line, he is a fucking idiot, is at the end of his career (not by choice and not because he’s a ‘whistleblower’) and he’s grandstanding in the hopes of getting a follow on gig after retirement. I’ve also had privates with more time on the ground in Afghanistan and more credibility to talk about what is working and not working over there.

    He’s been working Congress on his own as well and with little result. Maybe he has some points in there, and that’s another discussion, but the way in which he’s going about this and his thinly veiled motives from up close make me just want to puke. Also, the whole “Public Affairs is scrambling to quash this” is stupid. From my seat, OCPA is just pissed because this guy went out and made some statements and then referred the media to OCPA for further information. OCPA doesn’t work for individuals and shouldn’t have to answer for every wingnut staff puke who wants to get in the media. In fact, OCPA and the senior leadership (the ones he calls liars) knew this was coming, talked it over, and made sure this guy had the chance to engage Congress and the media on his own without interference. Try doing that shit in the Afghan army.

    I feel dumb just for having wasted the time it took to write this on this asshat.

  10. Elric says:

    #9- Funny you should mention him as I know him all too well myself. Several of my peers who have served with him have come to the same conclusion. He is getting out because he was never on the track for command or advancement past LTC. Knowing his BASD he has been passed over for O-6 twice (not that it is exceptional) and really has nothing left to lose. He hooked his wagon to being a future combat systems force mod years ago. He really does not have the background or expertise to back his accusations. BTW, he was an FA guy who changed branches.

    What really pisses me off is the self-important naming of his report “Dereliction of Duty II”, trying in a pathetic way to associate going off the reservation with McMaster’s groundbreaking work. I’m sure Davis will land on his feet somewhere…he’s a political animal first and foremost.

  11. NSOM says:

    re #9 and #10

    I suspected as much to be possible but even if 100% of that is true it doesn’t make any of the things he has to say here, in this context, any less true.

  12. NHSparky says:

    Also that, but would you disagree with the assessment that we were never really committed to winning in Afghanistan, and doubly so with the current administration and their only goal of getting out as soon as possible?

    Frankly, the parallels between Afghanistan and Vietnam are becoming clearer by the day. Sadly.

  13. Sergeant Spliff says:

    I’m sad to see us leave A-stan, so many good memories from my first rotation back in ’02, before the Army got all PC and got its shit together. I used to score the finest kush that hajji had to offer at rock bottom prices and light that shit up without need for my usual shenanigans because nobody was on that piss-test tip yet. Coming back was no sweat either, MPs just searched your gear, not your person, so I sealed about 2 keys of primo Horse into envelopes with saran wrap and high speed taped those shits to my legs for the flight back. I don’t touch the stuff, but I flipped it back on the block to my cousin Jerry who sold it at an 800% markup from what I paid. Had a nice little party afterwards. Good times and great moments.

  14. NHSparky says:

    It’s gonna be funnier than shit when you get nailed, fucker.

    Notice I said “when”, not “if”.

  15. Sergeant Spliff says:

    They’ve got 8 more years to catch me, but Vegas odds would be on my side considering I’m already close to 12 and have been toking for a little under 10. When I retire I’ll spark one up in your honor NHSparky.

  16. Nicki says:


  17. UpNorth says:

    Sparky, did #13 read just like a bad episode of China Beach, or maybe an outtake from Apocalypse Now? Cuz it sure doesn’t read like anything from real life. More like another tale from the meth-addled brain of a born loser.