WASHINGTON -- Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, the Army officer who accused Pentagon leaders earlier this year of lying to the public about the progress of the war in Afghanistan, said on Wednesday that the country is heading toward civil war.
"If we continue on with our stated intention to run out the clock on the 2010 Lisbon timeline -- you know, fighting through the 2013 season, switching to advise and assist, and then effectively done by the end of 2014 -- I would say there's a greater than 75 percent probability of civil war and the thing just disintegrating," he told The Huffington Post.
Davis was in Washington to accept the Ridenhour Award for Truth-Telling at the National Press Club. The award is given by The Nation Institute and the Fertel Foundation for "bringing a specific issue of social importance to the public's attention."
Davis published an 86-page report in January arguing that conditions in Afghanistan were becoming steadily worse while generals claimed the opposite. The report was based on his year-long tour in Afghanistan with the Rapid Equipping Force, during which Davis surveyed soldiers on their equipment needs and helped fast-track new gear to the field. The tour took him on patrols across the country, which gave him a bleak picture of the war effort.
"After ten and a half years, we did not succeed. We didn't tamp down the Taliban, the Afghan security forces are minimally capable in some areas and not even that in most areas and that's again, reported by numerous organizations, not just me," he said.
Under current plans, which were agreed to at the NATO summit in Lisbon in 2010, the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan will end its combat role by the end of 2014 and hand over security in the country to local forces. But several nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, have already announced plans to transition their areas to the Afghan army a year early, putting extra pressure on local authorities.
While some ISAF troops will remain in Afghanistan after 2014 to provide support and training, Davis was skeptical that Afghan soldiers will ever be ready to secure their own country.
"If you look at the Afghan media, you see over the last, say, six weeks, you see report after report of 18 policemen killed, 12 policemen killed, 16 soldiers killed. When they're actually fighting against someone with guns, they're getting beat probably six out of ten times," he said.
The Department of Defense disagreed strongly with Davis' assessment.
"LTC Davis is entitled to his opinion, but we remain confident that our strategy is showing real progress," said Cmdr. William Speaks, a Pentagon spokesman. "We remain committed to it, and we are confident the result will be an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself, and never again become a safe haven for terrorists to plan attacks on our country or any other country."
Despite his dire predictions, Davis said his intent in writing the report was not to recommend policy but to fix the reporting system that provides lawmakers with information on the war. "We cannot continue this deal where we tell basically made-up stories to the American people and to Congress. That's got to change, because it has severe consequences," he said.
Read Davis' full report below