I'll get 'nuked' for revealing Afghan failures, admits US army colonel

Whistleblower challenges Pentagon's official reports of peacekeeping mission in Taliban territory

Washington

Hear it from the US Defence Department or the White House, and the war in Afghanistan is a success story allowing America to cease combat operations there a year early. Listen, however, to Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Davis, veteran of two tours on the Afghan frontlines, and the 11-year conflict is a failure bordering a disaster that those in power have deliberately concealed from Congress and the American people.

For the past month, Lt-Col Davis has been conducting an unusual one-man whistleblowing campaign, complete with two reports – one classified – to his superiors at the Pentagon and private briefings for lawmakers.

Now he has gone public, first in an article for a respected independent journal on military affairs, and then yesterday in an interview with The New York Times. It comes barely a week after Leon Panetta, the Defence Secretary, revealed plans for the last US combat troops to be out of Afghanistan by late 2013, compared with President Barack Obama's previous target of 2014.

"I'm going to get nuked," the 48-year-old officer told the newspaper, speaking of the reaction he expects to the accusations he is levelling at the Pentagon high command, and luminaries like General David Petraeus, who oversaw Mr Obama's troop surge in Afghanistan.

Lt-Col Davis likens himself to a latterday equivalent of James Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington, the 1939 film about a senatorial innocent risking his career and reputation to take on a corrupt governing establishment.

In reality, he has a track record of dissent that goes back some years. But his current views stem from his experience in Afghanistan, where he travelled 9,000 miles across eight provinces last year, speaking with 250 soldiers across the ranks, and many Afghan security officials and civilians, before returning home in October last year. His judgement is that official reports of progress in the war are wildly overblown. The Taliban's strength, he contends, is undiminished, while the Afghan security forces have in many cases made their own deals with the rebels. "You can spin all kinds of stuff, but you can't spin the fact that more men are getting blown up every year."

Not surprisingly, the Pentagon rejects the charges, insisting it is a "values-based organisation", committed to "the integrity of what we publish and what we say". But, thus far at least, it has not moved to punish Lt-Col Davis – perhaps because he has drawn a degree of support on Capitol Hill.

In fact this is not the first time official public assessments of the war have been challenged. In December 2010, two classified intelligence reports warned that success was unlikely without a crackdown by Pakistan on insurgents in that country. And only last week, Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, spoke of the "disparity" between public pronouncements on the war, and the "sobering" conclusions of a National Intelligence Estimate – representing the combined wisdom of the US intelligence agencies – drawn up a month before.

News
i100
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Financial Accountants, Cardiff, £250 p/day

£180 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Financial Accountants - Key Banking...

Regulatory Reporting-MI-Bank-Cardiff-£300/day

£200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...

Recruitment Consultant - Bristol - Computer Futures - £18-25k

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Real Staffing - Leeds - £18k+

£18000 - £27000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Sales - Trainee Recruitment Co...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices