Top Green Beret Officer Forced to Resign Over Affair With WaPo Reporter

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Top Green Beret Officer Forced to Resign Over Affair With WaPo Reporter

ABC News

A legendary Special Forces commander was quietly forced to leave the U.S. Army after he admitted to a love affair with a Washington Post war correspondent, who quit her job to secretly live with him for almost a year in one of the most dangerous combat outposts in Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Special Operations Command never publicly disclosed that highly-decorated Green Beret Major Jim Gant was relieved of command at the end of a harrowing 22 months in combat in March 2012.

His commanders charged in confidential files that he had “indulged in a self-created fantasy world” of booze, pain pills and sex in a tribal village deep in Taliban and al Qaeda country with his “wife,” journalist Ann Scott Tyson.

“We did fall in love, I would say over the course of about a week,” Tyson told ABC News in an interview, recalling that Gant asked her to marry him within a few days of meeting each other in 2010. She laughed him off at first, but eventually he won her over.

By the time he was yanked out of Afghanistan two years later because of his relationship with Tyson, Gant also had won over three Pashtun tribes with substantial influence throughout Kunar province. Top commanders had tasked him with turning the tide of a conflict America was losing, and in his corner of the war, Gant was winning.

PHOTOS: Lawrence of Afghanistan

FULL COVERAGE: Lawrence of Afghanistan

VIDEO: Inside Jim Gant’s Briefing Room, Warning of Violence After Quran Burning in 2012


Despite being stripped of his Special Forces honors, busted down to captain and forced to retire in a case hushed up by the Army for two years, Gant said everything he achieved in waging an unconventional fight against the Taliban — which Tyson says she helped him to do — was worth the punishment and professional blows.

“We both knew that there was a lot of risk in doing what we did. And I would do it again,” Gant told ABC News this month in his first television interview. “It was extremely unconventional, yes, to say the least.”

As to the wrongdoing he has since admitted to, he said the results he got were proof that breaking the rules worked.

“I never left the battlefield defeated. I never lost a man. Well over 20 awards for valor for the men that I fought alongside. We went after ‘em every single day. I brought all my men home. That’s it,” Gant said.

But it was a long, hard fall for a visionary still called “Lawrence of Afghanistan” by two of the war’s now retired top commanders, Army Gen. David Petraeus and Navy SEAL Adm. Eric Olson, in honor of the British officer T.E. Lawrence who led the Arab Revolt a century ago. Gant, who idolizes Lawrence, said he’s honored by the comparison.

Ann Scott Tyson and Jim Gant, who married last year, have come forward to tell their tale in her new book, “American Spartan: The Promise, The Mission And The Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant.”

Do you have information about this or a related story? CLICK HERE to send your tip in to the Investigative Unit.

One Tribe At a Time

Four years ago, some influential, high-level military officers believed that Gant held the key to winning the war in Afghanistan, but as the book lays out in excruciating detail, his heroism and vision were all but forgotten by the commanders who once praised him, save for Olsen and Petraeus.

“He clearly had grit. He had guts. He had intelligence,” Petraeus, who became the Afghan war’s commander in 2010, told ABC News in a rare on-camera interview. “He is one to whom we owe a debt of gratitude, even recognizing how things ended for him. Folks make mistakes, obviously.”

Few others have defended Gant’s war record.

Amid his 50 months of credited time in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan –- an unusual duration –- Gant received the Silver Star Medal in Iraq. It is the third-highest award for valor and has only been given to 703 others since 2001, often posthumously.

Both Gant and Tyson, one of America’s most experienced war correspondents, were in troubled marriages when they decided to live out their battlefield romance for nine months in a hotly contested Afghan mountain range along the bucolic Kunar River. They now enjoy a considerably calmer life in her hometown Seattle, where Gant still struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder as he watches both his former warzones collapsing into chaos.

He still suffers from combat injuries, the effects of the physical beating his body withstood over 20 years of special operations, traumatic brain injury from a roadside bomb in Afghanistan and the PTSD that makes him flinch noticeably at the sound of any bang.

Gant’s shaggy hair, long and bristly grey beard and blue jeans seamlessly blend into the city’s laid back coffee and music culture, hardly betraying his incredible role as an operator so bold and imaginative in waging counterinsurgency for Petraeus that Tyson’s book claims he was targeted for death by Osama bin Laden.

VIDEO: 3 Days, 3 Taliban Attacks on Special Forces Base

VIDEO: Gen. Petraeus on ‘Going Native’ to Win in Afghanistan

VIDEO: Author Ann Scott Tyson’s Guntruck Hit By Roadside IED Blast

A seasoned ground commander once put on alert in 2004 to kill the al Qaeda leader when there was a suspected sighting, Gant wrote a startlingly blunt 45-page pamphlet, “One Tribe At A time” in 2009. He declared the U.S. was “losing the war in Afghanistan” and could only succeed there by earning the loyalty of the country’s Pashtun tribes -– which meant troops had to go native.

“All the Taliban has to do is not lose,” Gant wrote, accurately predicting the inevitability of U.S. public support for the war cratering with a hasty military withdrawal to follow. He proposed “tribal engagement teams” who would live inside villages and allowed to be “American tribesmen.”

Rather than hammer Gant for his impertinence, Petraeus, Olson and other top commanders were so impressed that they changed Gant’s orders to return to Iraq and brought him back to Afghanistan in 2010 to help supervise “village stability operations.” As Gant had urged, small teams of operators would leverage the tribal honor code, Pashtunwali, by living with, eating with, fighting with and even dying with tribesmen willing to take on the insurgents.

Olson said he considered Gant one of the few in special operations who understood that progress required more than just kill/capture missions and viewed him as an antidote to an unconventional war that had taken the wrong direction with a surge of conventional troops.

Petraeus became Gant’s biggest supporter when he unexpectedly took command in Kabul in July 2010.

“There was no question that the Taliban was on the march,” Petraeus said. His solution was to send thinly-stretched Special Operations forces into villages, “thickened” by conventional U.S. Army infantry squads, in order to win the loyalty of Pashtun and wreck the Taliban momentum. Gant was superb at “going native,” Petraeus said.

Gant also fell hard for a reporter at the Washington Post who took up his case for tribal engagement. Each was in a marriage on the ropes and each had four kids.

“I used to tell her, ‘just jump.’ You know, just, ‘Come on, just jump.’ And she did. And so did I. So here we are,” Gant said.


Going Native: ‘I Am Trying to Win. Not Sure Everyone Is’

Once back in Afghanistan, Gant returned to Kunar province along the Pakistan border, an al Qaeda and Taliban haven that was the scene of the Navy SEALs’ 2005 disaster portrayed in the hit film “Lone Survivor,” as well as the location of the 2010 documentary “Restrepo,” by war correspondent Sebastian Junger and the late photographer Tim Hetherington. In 2003, Gant’s Green Beret team ODA 316 had fought with the Mohmand tribe in Mangwel village and he was still regarded as family by the tribal chief, Malik Noor Afzhal, nicknamed Sitting Bull.

But Gant was still skeptical of America’s resolve in halting the enemy’s momentum when he arrived at Sitting Bull’s doorstep in early 2011.

“I am living in a qalat back in Mangwel, with my tribe in the Konar,” Gant emailed a journalist, who later joined ABC News. “I am trying to win. Not sure everyone is.”

For one thing, instead of handpicked special operators, Gant got a dozen infantrymen from a Kansas unit who were untested and in some cases barely knew how to use their weapons.

“I was absolutely shocked at how unprepared they were for the mission. But they had heart,” Gant said.

He trained them literally overnight and they soon grew full beards and adopted tribal appearance, voluntarily shedding uniforms and body armor for shalwar kameez clothing, pokol caps and scarves. They had to show Sitting Bull’s tribe that they did not fear being killed by their Afghan friends, Gant argued. Their Afghan clothing, therefore, was their protection.

“It wasn’t about our weapons or our body armor… it was gonna be about how we treated them. And it worked. It worked in a big way,” he said.

But Gant painted Spartan lambdas on his humvee guntrucks to let Taliban observers know they were his, which helped him avoid ambushes by intimidated insurgents, he says. Commanders later accused him of destroying government property with the spay-painted symbols.

He didn’t fear a fight, taunting the enemy into attacking and often riding on the hood of his Humvee to use his uncanny ability at spotting and defusing roadside bombs — though one finally hit him in early 2012, launching him from the hood of his vehicle. Gant reported the incident but refused to be medevaced. On another occasion, Tyson was in a guntruck hit by an IED but no one was injured.

“Tell everyone you come into contact with, I did not come here to fight. I came here to help the people,” Gant told dozens of tribal police in one 2012 video Tyson shot. “But if someone wants to f***in’ fight, they know where I am.”

Gant said his challenge intimidated the Taliban and impressed the tribes, whose honor code demands violence for violence.

“You cannot let violence go unanswered and you have to be prepared to be more violent than they are,” Gant said. Otherwise, he said, “they’ll kill you.”

When the Taliban did attack, villagers helped the Americans fight back ferociously — and Tyson videotaped much of it with her steady hand.

“I’ll never forget the courage to fight alongside the Americans, side by side. That was what we needed to win in Afghanistan,” she said.

In 2011, Petraeus visited Mangwel, which by then had been dubbed the “petting zoo” by Special Forces commanders because so many VIPs such as Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joseph Lieberman and Carl Levin and the leadership of U.S. Special Operations wanted to see Gant’s success up close. Gant and his men greeted visitors in full tribal attire.

“[Gant] did go native. You go native so that the natives feel that you respect them and are comfortable with them and trust them, above all. And he really was adopted as a son by Sitting Bull… there was no question about the relationship between these two individuals. And that’s what you want,” Petraeus said.

Petraeus decorated Gant with a Joint Service Commendation Medal — which Gant pinned on Sitting Bull the next day, telling his friend, “Without you, there is no me.”

“Jim had become more Pashtun than the Pashtuns,” Tyson wrote in her book.


Tyson too dressed in tribal clothing made for her by local seamstresses. To show the tribe how much he trusted them, the American couple took walks together into Mangwel, where Tyson became friendly with the tribe’s women and children, invited into private areas where men did not go. Sitting Bull treated Tyson like a daughter, she wrote.

>Gant taught Tyson how to fire all of the weapons used by Special Forces and kept a spare pistol in his guntruck in case null


Matter: Definition & the Five States of Matter

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Matter: Definition & the Five States of Matter

NASA’s ‘flying saucer’ tests new Mars-landing technology

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NASA’s ‘flying saucer’ tests new Mars-landing technology



The Low Density Supersonic Decelerator in the Missile Assembly Building at the US Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kaua’i, Hawaii on June 3, 2014 (AFP Photo/)

Washington (AFP) – NASA sent a saucer-like vehicle high into the sky to test technology for a future Mars landing, but its parachute tangled when deployed and the spacecraft splashed into the Pacific Ocean.

The test began when the US space agency attached its “Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator” vehicle to a helium balloon the size of a football field, the largest ever deployed, at a military base on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The balloon carried the saucer high into the sky starting at 1840 GMT.

NASA television broadcast the event live.

After some 2.5 hours of ascent, when the balloon reached a height of 120,000 feet (36,600 meters), it detached the saucer, which fired its rocket engine and rose to 180,000 feet (54,900 meters) traveling at 3.8 times the speed of sound.

At that point the engine was cut off and NASA began its first test — deploying a doughnut-shaped inflatable device around the saucer dubbed the “Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator.”

This successfully slowed the saucer’s descent to 2.5 times the speed of sound.

As the saucer plunged towards Earth, NASA began its second test — deploying a giant parachute 36 meters in diameter.

The new technologies are being tested at extremely high altitudes similar to those in Mars’ upper atmosphere.

To land on Mars NASA has been using a parachute system first used in the 1970s, but with heavier spacecraft larger parachutes are needed.

The mammoth parachute should have helped the saucer complete a gentle landing on the Pacific Ocean. Instead it failed to fully deploy and the saucer plunged into the water.

The parachute “does not look like it deployed that well,” said Dan Coatta, one of the mission specialists, interviewed on NASA TV. “It deployed, but it did not fully inflate.”

Despite the parachute failure, NASA was satisfied with the $150 million test.

“What we saw is a very good test,” said Coatta, noting that everything went well up to the point of the parachute test.

“This is an opportunity to look at the data and learn what happen and apply that for the next test,” he said.

NASA has two more flights planned to further test the new landing technology.

Strong winds had forced NASA to postpone the flight, originally scheduled for a two-week launch window in early June.

Scientists discover one of the most Earth-like planets yet

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Scientists discover one of the most Earth-like planets yet

Can Gliese 832c support life, or is it just a super-Venus? is reporting that astronomers at the University of New South Wales have discovered an Earth-like planet just 16 light-years away. The planet, dubbed Gliese 832c, is orbiting a red dwarf star half the mass and radius of our own sun. Gliese 832c has an orbital period of about 35 days, and a mass more than five times that of Earth’s. More importantly, however, Gliese 832c is orbiting within the habitable zone of the red dwarf, and receives the same average stellar energy as Earth does from the Sun, Sci-News.comreports.



Gliese 832c’s mass means it likely has a far denser atmosphere than Earth does, which could make the planet’s weather hot and volatile. If this is the case, the planet might be more like a super-Venus than a super-Earth. “If the planet has a similar atmosphere to Earth it may be possible for life to survive, although seasonal shifts would be extreme,” the University of South Wales’ Professor Chris Tinney said. Even so, Gliese 832c is one of the most Earth-like planets we’ve ever encountered.

“[Gliese 832c is] one of the top three most Earth-like planets according to the [Earth Similarity Index] (i.e., with respect to Earth’s stellar flux and mass) and the closest one to Earth of all three — a prime object for follow-up observations,” writes Abel Mendez Torres on the Planetary Habitability Lab’s blog. “It’s just a stone’s throw from Earth in the cosmic scheme of things,” adds’s Mike Wall.

Federal protection sought for wild horses in West

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Federal protection sought for wild horses in West

Mustang advocates seek Endangered Species Act protection for wild horses across the West

Associated Press

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Despite overall numbers in the tens of thousands, mustang advocates say the wild horse is on the verge of going extinct in North America for the second time in 13,000 years and deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act alongside grizzly bears, the desert tortoise and humpback whales.

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Despite overall numbers in the tens of thousands, mustang advocates say the wild horse is on the verge of going extinct in North America for the second time in 13,000 years and deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act alongside grizzly bears, the desert tortoise and humpback whales.

Efforts to halt mustang roundups in Congress and the courts have been unsuccessful over the past decade, but two groups in a petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service are focusing on genetics and research they say prove the horses are a native species. They say growing threats from development, livestock grazing and government gathers are jeopardizing the genetic viability of individual herds in 10 states from California to Montana.

“Nothing else is working. This is a different avenue,” said Michael Harris, a lawyer for Friends of Animals, a nonprofit animal rights group that filed the petition with the Colorado-based horse group, The Cloud Foundation.                                                                                           

The petition states mustang habitat has shrunk 40 percent since President Richard Nixon signed the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act into law in 1971. It advances an argument that the Bureau of Land Management long has rejected — that the wild horse is a native species that only temporarily went extinct on the continent 11,000 to 13,000 years ago before Spanish conquistadors reintroduced it to North America in the 1500s.

The call for protection comes as BLM insists the public rangeland — much of it in the throes of drought — is being degraded by an overpopulation of nearly 50,000 horses and burros, about half of them in Nevada.

The petition accuses the agency of undermining U.S. law protecting mustangs by abusing its authority to order roundups based on a determination that the herds are in “excess” to further the agency’s interest in minimizing competition with wildlife, cattle and sheep.

While BLM estimates 49,208 horses and burros are on the range, the petition says none of the isolated herds number anywhere near the 2,500 most biologists consider necessary to keep a distinct species viable. About three-fourths have fewer than 150 horses, it said.

Harris, legal director of the wildlife program at Friends of Animals, admits it may be tough to sell the public on the idea the mustangs are endangered given there are thousands in Nevada alone.

“But I don’t think it will be a hard sell at all to the biologists at the Fish and Wildlife Service who examine the question of genetic viability over and over when it comes to endangered species,” he told The Associated Press on Friday.                                                                                www.sorraiamustangs.netThe Nevada Cattlemen’s Association and the Public Lands Council are among those arguing the petition is invalid because the horses aren’t native to North America. They say protection afforded mustangs under the Wild Horse and Burro Act is undercut by BLM’s failure to keep herd sizes in check.

“The federal government is buckling to pressures from the misguided special interest groups that don’t want to see ‘wild’ horses brought off the range,” said Dustin Van Liew, executive director of the council tied to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Listing wild horses under the ESA — which is meant for wildlife, not domesticated, non-native animals — would only serve as another demonstration of just how damaging that statute is.”

BLM spokeswoman Celia Boddington said Friday that the agency hasn’t changed its longstanding position that today’s American wild horses are not “native.”

“American wild horses are descended from domestic horses, some of which were brought over by European explorers in the late 15th and 16th centuries, plus others that were released or escaped captivity in modern times,” BLM’s web site states.                                                

The petition filed June 11 points to recent research concluding that the modern horse — genus Equus — originated in North America 3 million to 4 million years ago, spread to Eurasia by crossing the Bering land bridge 2 to 3 million years ago and became extinct in North America no longer than 13,000 years ago.

It cites the work of Jay F. Kirkpatrick, a leader in horse reproduction research who directs ZooMontana’s Science and Conservation Center in Billings, Montana.

“It is native to North America,” Kirkpatrick said. “The Spanish were bringing them home.”


Vaping: How E-cigs Work (Infographic)

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Vaping: How E-cigs Work (Infographic)

NY Legalizes Medical Marijuana: How Vaping Pot Is Different from Smoking

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NY Legalizes Medical Marijuana: How Vaping Pot Is Different from Smoking