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US Paints False Picture of Afghan War: US Army Officer

“I’m going to get nuked”

- Common Dreams staff

A US Army officer has accused the American military of painting a misleading picture of progress in the war in Afghanistan while glossing over the Kabul government's many failings.

US soldiers stand guard at the site of a suicide attack near the gate of Kandahar's international airport in January 2012. (AFP Photo/Jangir) Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis broke ranks with the official portrayal of the war after spending a year in the country, issuing a grim assessment and accusing his superiors of covering up the harsh realities that plague the mission.

"When it comes to deciding what matters are worth plunging our nation into war and which are not, our senior leaders owe it to the nation and to the uniformed members to be candid — graphically, if necessary — in telling them what’s at stake and how expensive potential success is likely to be. U.S. citizens and their elected representatives can decide if the risk to blood and treasure is worth it."

"Likewise when having to decide whether to continue a war, alter its aims or to close off a campaign that cannot be won at an acceptable price, our senior leaders have an obligation to tell Congress and American people the unvarnished truth and let the people decide what course of action to choose. That is the very essence of civilian control of the military. The American people deserve better than what they’ve gotten from their senior uniformed leaders over the last number of years. Simply telling the truth would be a good start."

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Agence France-Presse reports:

"What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by US military leaders about conditions on the ground," Davis wrote in an article published in Armed Forces Journal, a private newspaper not affiliated with the Pentagon.

Damning report: Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis said he 'witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level'"Instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level," he wrote under the headline, "Truth, Lies And Afghanistan: How military leaders have let us down."

Local Afghan government officials are failing to serve the Afghan population and their security forces are reluctant to fight insurgents or are colluding with the Taliban, he wrote.

"How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding and behind an array of more than seven years of optimistic statements by US senior leaders in Afghanistan?" he said in his article.

Davis has also reportedly shared his pessimistic view with some members of Congress and written a classified version of his article for the Defense Department, a highly unusual move that he expects will anger his commanders and short-circuit his professional career.

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From the New York Times report:

“We are a values-based organization, and the integrity of what we publish and what we say is something we take very seriously”
- Col. James E. Hutton, chief of media relations for the Army
[...] “I’m going to get nuked,” he said in an interview last month.

But his bosses’ initial response has been restrained. They told him that while they disagreed with him, he would not face “adverse action,” he said.

Col. James E. Hutton, chief of media relations for the Army, declined to comment specifically about Colonel Davis, but he rejected the idea that military leaders had been anything but truthful about Afghanistan.

“We are a values-based organization, and the integrity of what we publish and what we say is something we take very seriously,” he said.

* * *

From the full article by Lt Colonel Davis in the Armed Forces Journal:

Truth, Lies and Afghanistan

[...] How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding and behind an array of more than seven years of optimistic statements by U.S. senior leaders in Afghanistan? No one expects our leaders to always have a successful plan. But we do expect — and the men who do the living, fighting and dying deserve — to have our leaders tell us the truth about what’s going on. [...]

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