Iraq & Afghanistan

A letter from Lt Col Daniel L. Davis, who is a fulcrum that can move a nation – should we choose to help him

Summary:  Please read this letter from Daniel L. Davis (Lt Colonel, US Army).  He has set in motion forces that can change America, but only if we choose to help.  Pass this on to your Congressmen, Senators, local newspapers, associate, friends, and relatives.  If we stand together we can reclaim America. Today is an opportunity to start this process.

 δῶς μοι πᾶ στῶ καὶ τὰν γᾶν κινάσω (Give me a fulcrum, and we shall move the nation.)
— Archimedes of Syracuse (c. 287 BC – c. 212 BC), my translation


  1. The letter
  2. What the late John R. Boyd (Colonel, USAF) would tell Colonel Davis
  3. This has happened before
  4. Update:  Rolling Stone has posted a copy of Davis’ unclassified report
  5. Other posts describing misinformation about Afghanistan and the war

(1)  The Letter

Colonel Davis has attracted considerable attention lately from these articles:

This letter explains his actions.  It is reprinted with permission of Colonel Davis.  See his website here, with important docutmentation about his observations, and links to his other articles.

My Dearest Friends,

I haven’t talked to many of you in awhile, but so the rest of this makes sense, I was deployed to Afghanistan for a year between November 2010 and October 2011. I saw many things during that deployment — the fourth combat deployment of my career — that I found disturbing. Eventually I felt morally obligated to do something about what I saw to such an extent that iI was incapable of not acting. Here’s what I’ve done and things that are being done as a result.

Scott Shane from the New York Times will publish a story on the actions I’ve taken, and the Armed Forces Journal will simultaneously publish an article i’ve written explaining why I submitted a Department of Defense Inspector General complaint against select senior leaders of the Armed Forces for so being so deceptive to the US Congress and American people that the truth is no longer recognizable — and the biggest bill-payer for this deception has been the lives and bodies of America’s service men and women.

Additionally I have briefed three members of the House (Jones, Garamendi, and McGovern), four Senators (Merkley, Bennet, Tom Udall, and Manchen) as well as 18 other Senate staffers representing numerous other offices. This briefing included a classified and unclassified portion (and the DoDIG complaint also included a classified and unclassified component), and was also submitted in the form of a request for Congress to investigate my allegations.

Supposedly, the three House members are planning on going to the House floor on Tuesday with up to 10 other Members to speak on the matter and demand an investigation and hearings (or whatever they do on the floor!); the Senators suggested they are considering similar action.

Part of my AFJ article includes a link to a web site I set up for the purpose of hanging the unclassified report for everyone to see (the AFJ article is only 2,400 words, while the unclassified report is 86 pages; the classified report is 58 pages). However, there is a battle within the Army Public Affairs on releasing the document, which I submitted for review on 20 January – the same day I disclosed to the Army’s senior leaders and my chain of command what was coming. Officers from the Army Media Relations department tried to pry it loose on Friday because they believe it is the right thing to do, but someone – they didn’t tell me who – overruled them and said it would take longer still…

In case you’d like to read the Armed Forces Journal article I wrote to see what exactly I witnessed, the article has just been posted on their web site at: “Truth, lies and Afghanistan – How military leaders have let us down“, Armed Forces Journal, February 2012.

The New York Times will publish the story on my actions in their Monday paper edition, but an online version has also just been published at “Important news about our war in Afghanistan“, 6 February 2012.

Once I became aware of the truth on the ground, I could no longer rationalize inaction on my part. Essentially, I would have had to keep my mouth shut and thus not risk running afoul of the Army’s senior leaders – but turned a blind eye to the thousands of combat troops who continue risking their lives each and every day they go outside the wire while I lived comfortably in the safety and security of America. Once I looked at it in those terms, I was compelled to act…

Anyway, thought you’d like a little heads up!


(2)  What the late John R. Boyd (Colonel, USAF) would tell Colonel Davis

He made the right choice when coming to the fateful “to be or to do” moment.  See “To be or to do” at Defense and the National Interest, 1 July 2007 — Opening:

Of all the things Boyd wrote or said, we probably get the most requests for his “To be or to do?” invitation.  Although Boyd associated with many junior officers during his Air Force career, there were a few, perhaps half a dozen, that he had such respect for that he invited them to join him on his quest for change.  Each one would be offered the choice: Be someone – be recognized by the system and promoted – or do something that would last for the Air Force and the country.  It was unfortunate, and says something about the state of American’s armed forces, that it was rarely possible to do both.

Boyd’s biographer, Robert Coram, collected the invitation from an officer who got it and selected the “to do” option.  Here it is: …

(3)  This has happened before

A historical analogy is the briefing Lt. Colonel John Paul Vann (US Army) gave to the senior Army leadership in Washington during June and July 1963, with statistical evidence proving that the military’s reporting about the Vietnam War was incorrect.  It was suppressed, although some details slowly leaked into the press through a few brave journalists (as rare then as now).  More about this tomorrow.

Let’s see if the actions of this brave man produce larger results than those of Vann.

(4)  Update:  Rolling Stone has posted a copy of Davis’ unclassified report

Solidifying Rolling Stone’s role as one of America’s few remaining outposts of journalism:

(5)  Other posts describing misinformation about Afghanistan and the war

  1. The good news about COIN in Afghanistan is really bad news, 20 August 2008
  2. We are warned about Afghanistan, but choose not to listen (part 2), 19 July 2009
  3. DoD did not consider troop levels when devising our latest Af-Pak war plans, more evidence that their OODA loop is broken, 8 October 2009
  4. A clear view of our Afghanistan War strategy (unfortunately, it’s mad), 16 April 2010
  5. A powerful story from Afghanistan, an illustration of our un-strategy at work, 18 April 2010
  6. Presidential decision-making about Vietnam and Afghanistan: “You have 3 choices, sir”, 5 October 2010
  7. We can learn an important lesson about ourselves from the “Three Cups of Tea” affair (part one), 26 April 2011
  8. The lessons about ourselves we can learn from the “Three Cups of Tea” affair (part two), 27 April 2011

30 replies »

  1. I read his AFJ article last night and I was hoping you would post on it here. It really does inspire hope and confidence since Lt. Col. Davis is not someone that can be easily ignored or marginalized. We have had good and credible reports of what is going on for years now, but they always get swept aside or ignored, this time it won’t be so easy. We need to stand by him and contact our representatives to get hearings going.

    His article struck a cord with me because I’ve wanted to serve as an Army Officer since I was 15. After joining the Guard I went to college and do ROTC. This was back in 2005 and it did not take long for me to realize that our entire approach to our conflicts was wrong and that my fate would only entail leading soldiers into situations that could get them killed or maimed for little more than a marginal and short term gain. I dropped out of ROTC and just continued my Guard service. Every time a new strategy was announced or something appeared to have changed, I tired to see if I could finally serve with full faith, yet as I would look closer I could see things were just the same as ever.

    Its a hard thing to give up on your dreams but when I read things like what Lt. Col Davis wrote it at least gives me some measure of comfort that I chose the right path. Now I will do what I can to help him in his quest to get some accountability and truth. Its the only way that we can finally square our foreign policy with reality.

    On another note, FM have you read this?

    It seems to me a very important part of the issue, its just another way in which we use lethal force for marginal gain and a very high cost, not only in terms of our blood or treasure, but in terms of the lives of innocent people.


    • I don’t see how anyone can praise this man. he has no regard for all the civilians he hurts with his too little too late reports and the lives he hurts and destroys by his actions if he expects any support he needs to help people at home also because no one is proud and patting him on the back saying ‘ good job’ that have been hurt and deeply scarred by his actions, I don’t see him concerned by the blood and tears spilled here at home.He seems to be out to only make a name and get his 15 minutes. well schools out time to face reality


  2. Many thx for the Posting…and Link to Davis.
    Was posted on Naked Capitalism Links this AM, also.

    Of course, such a brave man like Davis will be “nuked”.
    Count on it.

    These sociopathic liars and apologists in America will NOT be detered so easily.
    However, let it go viral and do ones part.
    Such is the responsibility of any sane citizen or person.



  3. This account simply makes me sick to my stomach. While we do not have any immediate family at risk in this hell hole we are Soldiers Angels to a Staff Sargeant fighting on the front line along with his weps squad. As far as we’re concerned these guys are our immediate family. While our role is miniscule we take it seriously. How dare the politicians show so much disdain for these heroes? Lt Col Davis is not only a proven warrior on the battle field he has chosen to stand up and take on the machine. We, the American people, must support this hero and make sure his back is well covered. Lt Col Davis, I have your back.


    • You guys, all of you miss the point. The point is, that Obama was in a dinmela. He had already fired one general. The Rolling Stone (founder is gay..point of information) edited a portion of a comment made by the general at going to lunch with the french government official, indicating that he was a fag . This really offended Obama, and put him in a difficult spot. Not only did the general say the previous, but all the other things he said really turned him (already turned) into a bigot. Probably that was as a bully thorughout his life. That’s how I see it.

      I don’t like the war in Afghanistan. Now I wish I had the money to go to the Afghan government and say Hey, I’ve got the money honey, let’s dig up some of this gold, lithium, and all the jewels that Ali Baba had in the good old days .. I’ll split it with you 70-30.. after expenses, taxes, bribes, bodyguards, etc.

      I didn’t like the war in Iraq., but it was a way to reply to 9-11. WE had to reply. Anyone who denies that does not live in the real world. I sincerely belive if we had done nothing, that another attempt would have been made the following month and months after that. I don’t see why we had to use ground troops then or now. We have great flying machines, drones, robots, and whatever none of us know about. Why risk troops. It’s not necesaary. It’s a limited war, and that means that any general has to abide by the civilian rule. War should never be limited. If someone attacks us, or threatens us, we need to be firm and prompt at a response. period. over and out. No limits. Destroy the source completely. It will send a direct message to those who understand only violence.


    • Janet,

      Most of your comment is incorrect.

      (1) Replying to 9-11 by invading an uninvolved country, which somehow prevented another attack by al Qaeda.

      Too bizarre for comment. I guess France or Denmark are luck that Bush’s dart didn’t hit them on the map — and that our display of awesomeness scared bin Laden.

      (2) Most wars are limited. Unlimited war is the exception, fortunately.

      (3) None of our wars are waged against nations that “attacked or threatened” us. Not Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, or Libya. Even Iran has threatened to reply only in response to acts of war by the US-Israel alliance.


    • For one thing, politicians whose answer to ending wars is “stay the course” probably are not the ones to vote for… And make sure that they (and their opponents) know that ending our pointless foreign wars is important to how you cast your vote.


    • This is what I wrote my representative, feel free to use whatever parts are relevant to you.

      Rep. Ros-Lehtinen,

      As you are hopefully aware, LT. Col. Daniel L. Davis published an article in the Armed Forces Journal yesterday titled “Truth, lies and Afghanistan: How military leaders have let us down” in which he details the current situation on the ground in Afghanistan. Based on his extensive experience and decade’s long service to this country, including 4 combat tours, LT. Col. Davis presents a bleak picture of the war effort. He describes a situation in which the tens of thousands of combat troops we currently have in theater are simply unable to project power and provide security beyond a stone’s throw from their forward operating bases. Beyond this, the Afghan National Army and other government forces are either incapable or unwilling to actually control the country they are supposed to protect. The Colonel describes in tragic detail how the Taliban are able to operate in Afghanistan with impunity despite over a decade of war and billions spent on hunting them down and building up government forces.

      Such descriptions of what is really going on in Afghanistan are completely at odds with what we are told by DOD officials and the Administration of President Obama. As a citizen of the United States and a former soldier in the Florida National Guard I urge you as my representative in congress to please support LT. Col Davis as he seeks to bring more information about the war to the American people. We need a detailed investigation on this matter as well as full and open hearings so that military and civilian leaders can be held accountable. We need to do this so the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform are not borne in vain, so that future generations of Americans are not shacked with even more debt with no discernible benefits to the national interest.

      As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee you are in a unique position to facilitate LT. Col. Davis in his quest to bring transparency to the war. We are in election season and I know that many of my fellow citizens will remember who supported transparency and accountability and who did not. On this issue alone, if you were to lend your support to LT. Col Davis I would gladly vote to have you re-elected and I would campaign vigorously to convince my fellow citizens to do the same.

      I know that you care deeply for this country and the soldiers that serve it, for that reason I trust you will do the right thing.

      David A. Focil


    • As I said in the post: write your representatives in Congress (as Mr Focil did). Write your local newspapers. Talk to the people you know. We are strong. We have just forgotten.


    • It seems to me that Gen. McChrystal apreaps to have chosen to come across in public as something of a jerk, particularly if he cleared that Rolling Stone article. It is difficult for me to understand a general letting his pants down in public and deliberately. there had to be a purpose. No dignity in his conduct and totally contrary to the public image that we have of this man. He didn’t expect to be fired?

      As far as being protective of their troops, that is understood. But military leaders and war theory generally supports the use of over-whelming force and a disregard for civilians who may get in the way. Thats just not the war that they have in Afghanistan. It seems to me that this was an act of desperation by a military that wants either a free hand or a way out by blaming the civilians. This is called arrogance.

      And I think that Gen. McChrystal’s conduct was an act of arrogance. Face up to it. We have a military that can’t do the job in Afghanistan. This was an act of desperation to change the game. By appointing General Petraeus, Obama is maneuvering to maintain the status quo on his strategy and policies of nationalizing the government, pacification and withdrawal. Now the question is whether the military will rise to the occassion.


  4. Perhaps LTC Davis message was put out with support from those within the military/national security apparatus who can’t speak out.


  5. Those who support an invasion of Iran by the USA or its proxy Israel will take nothing from this information on Afghanistan. It would be far, far, far, far worse in Iran of course.

    Has anyone looked at lessons learned from the Iran-Iraq war and how the Iranian people and government reacted?

    When I write next, I will include LTC Davis message.






  7. Fabius, While I haven’t commented since you re-lite the smoking lamp….this is one of your best post in a longtime and is why I continue to frequent your site, daily. Hats off and salute to TO BE, Kdog


  8. Davis appeared on tuesday’s Alyana show in She talked to him and a guy named Hoh for a good 10 minutes. The interview appears at about the :20 mark. He did what he did for the people out there putting their lives on the line. He also wrote an 85 page detailed report which is still classified. He pretty much realizes that he is for a mountain of grief.


  9. Not to be contrary, but isn’t he a little late? We’re already skedaddling out of Afghanistan as fast as we safely can. The public was always going to figure out the truth eventually– short term information ops can’t keep things out of the history books.

    Timing is everything– getting the real information first is what keeps the powerful in power. By the time the public figures it out, well, it’s history.

    I believe him when he says he felt morally compelled to act. God knows there are a whole lot of other officers, NCOs and joes who would’ve liked to say the same stuff if they had a big enough soap box.


  10. As someone who’s deployed several times to Iraq and Afghanistan and was a professional (not reservist/part-time) soldier from my experiences Davis is full of crap in at least a large portion of his rantings. I’m not in any more so I could care less about keeping quite but unchallenged BS like Davis’ which draws in gullible civilians is just sickening. I was in Iraq during COIN ops and Davis is dead wrong in his analysis. Not just my view but the view of most who took part. Davis has some sort of agenda, masquerading as a truth teller seems to be his way of putting it forth. As someone who’s deployed more than he has and who has actually taken part in COIN ops I call BS.


    • I’ve read the report,was in Iraq pre and post surge and in Afghanistan pre and post for a total of just short of seven years.I think Davis’ report is on the mark but have two quibbles.

      I would argue that in Baghdad the successful ethnic cleansing of many Sunni and mixed districts put the Sunnis in the position of having lost, knew it and made declaring a ceasefire with the US expedient. I accept that AQI behavior was the driving force but the battle had tilted against the Sunni nationalists and the timing was right for a break.

      I also don’t believe the Taliban were destroyed in 2001 rather they were defeated and dispersed- many to Pakistan- with the intent of reorganizing and gradually reestablishing themselves.

      I understand that the chances that the author’s view are taken seriously and result in positive change are increased by limiting criticism of the US military but one should not come away with the belief that all’s well in the ground forces.

      For every contact with local security forces that left me incredulous (the phoney shootout and sale of “expended” ammo to the insurgents was so common as to be a SOP) there was one with the US Army or Marines or NATO that left me shaking my head (the placement of agricultural advisers(!) on their first trip off base as rear security gunners in a convoy and their shooting of two innocent Afghans in a bazaar comes to mind).


  11. I have aohnter theory. What if some of the american military do not agree with the present situation in which the USA has been placed by the banksters controlling the political system. What if they clearly see that 9/11 was an inside job. I want to believe that there is still some decency and true patriotism among the US military leadership too. I also want to believe that US military officers do care about their troops and are fed up of sending people to die in an unwinnable war just to fill the pockets of a few crooks.


    • yes and that seems to be all he cares about is the military and seems to have no regard for the civilian lives he has destroyed and caused many to die over his silly little reports and how they affected people at home.


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