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US colonel: Don't believe US statements on progress in Afghanistan

Lt. Col. Daniel Davis just finished a year in Afghanistan and says don't believe claims of progress.

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The assessment differs sharply with the tone of progress emerging from the top brass. For instance, a press release from the end of January from the US Department of Defense information office begins:

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"Almost a month into 2012 -- a year both Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, called pivotal to operations there -- International Security Assistance Force officials said last year’s accomplishments have set the stage for continued success."

But Colonel Davis provides a different assessment from those on the ground. He recounts a conversation in September he held with an Afghan official who serves as a cultural adviser to the US commander in Kunar Province. Davis asked him if Afghan security forces would be able to hold out against the Taliban when US troops withdraw from the province.

“No. They are definitely not capable," the adviser told him. "Already all across this region [many elements of] the security forces have made deals with the Taliban. [The ANSF] won’t shoot at the Taliban, and the Taliban won’t shoot them."

Davis also echoes John Kerry's famous question to Congress in 1971 after serving in Vietnam: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

"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? 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."

Colonel Davis, who did a previous combat tour in Afghanistan during 2005-2006 and in Iraq from 2008-2009 was clearly shaken by what he saw this go around. His public statements are unusual in the extreme for a serving officer. In case you missed the link to his piece in the Armed Forces Journal the first time, here it is again


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