MEDIA ROOTS – Upon returning home from his second tour in Afghanistan, Lt. Colonel Daniel L. Davis unloaded several truths that exposed continued deception by multiple senior military officials. The 17-year Army veteran describes, in an 84-page “open-source” report, an increasingly bleak reality for soldiers while chronicling specific episodes of personal gain from top military leaders.
“No one expects our leaders to always have a successful plan,” he explains in a recent summary of the report in Armed Forces Journal. “But we do expect – and the men who do the living, fighting, and dying deserve – to have our leaders tell the truth about what’s going on.”
Prior to informing his chain of command, Davis met with six members of Congress and a New York Times reporter, to submit two documents – one classified and one not – to the Pentagon for internal review. However, upon learning that there would be a delay in the release of the unclassified report, Davis decided to go public last week in the nation’s premier independent military periodical. “How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding?”
The next day, the Times covered the story, but only to appear backpaged on A13. Then, last Friday, Rolling Stone released it in an article written by Michael Hastings, the journalist that wrote the bombshell article that lead to General McChrystal’s premature retirement in 2010.
With specific evidence of industry actually impeding military development, hundreds of billions of dollars being wasted, and virtually no accountability of top decision-makers, some generals continue to deceive Congress and the U.S. people. But with the ongoing expenditure of “blood, limbs, and lives of tens of thousands” of service members and only small gains for the country, “deception reach[ed] an intolerable low,” Davis writes. “If the public had access to these classified reports they would see the dramatic gulf between what is often said in public by our senior leaders and what is actually true behind the scenes.”
While assigned to the Future Combat Systems (FCS) organization in Fort Bliss, Texas, Davis discovered that deception was not isolated to one base or division but had become Army-wide. Starting in 1999 and lasting nearly a decade, the FCS organization cost nearly $20 billion dollars of taxpayer monies. Despite the Government Accountability Office documenting consistently significant problems with the agency, senior leaders routinely downplayed failures and often gave the impression of success to Congress. To date, none of these officials involved in these deceptions have been held accountable. Instead, one proponent, Major General Charles Cartwright, was promoted Vice President of Advanced Programs at Raytheon upon retirement. Raytheon was a primary supplier of the FCS blunder that was eventually canceled by the Defense Secretary.
The report also offers an extensive review of the 2007 Iraqi troop surge and the misplaced credit given to CIA Director General Patreaus. Several perspectives of the surge are featured that mention how, prior to the surge, the Iraqi Sunni community had already decided to revolt against their Al-Qaeda allies. This shifted momentum and left some Iraqi officials perplexed at why the U.S. was sending additional battalions after they had specifically requested that U.S. troops stay on the bases outside of conflict areas.
The allegations make a clear distinction between criticism for military officials and the presumed naivety of the President and Congress. According to Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward, the Commander-in-Chief asked many difficult questions prior to ordering the 30,000-troop surge in Afghanistan that ultimately failed. Obama was still in his first year of the presidency, had no personal military history, and was outnumbered in opinion by senior security advisors. Additionally, several misleading testimonies from top brass are provided, with context and factual disparity, that exemplify the rampant deceit offered to Congress and major media outlets.
The report goes on to suggest several areas where the U.S. has lost credibility. Davis cites how many mid-grade officers are now retiring early within the Army, due to increased disenfranchisement, and warns of a future military with dwindling respect for the chains of command. Also, as Congress continues to remain unaware of some classified intelligence, several defense contractors are able to study such material at their convenience. Davis recommends a bipartisan Congressional investigation of all the leaders involved to respond to these allegations, under oath.
When questioned why he felt compelled to come out with these accusations despite the fact he was going to be flamed by Army brass, Davis replied, “I believe that with knowledge comes responsibility; I knew too much to remain silent.”
Oskar Mosquito is a veteran of the U.S. Army and a producer at truth-march.
Picture provided by Flickr user hectorir