Commander sacrificed career over secret affair

SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 17:19 25/06/2014
jim gant and ann scott tyson
ANN SCOTT TYSON
IN LOVE: Former Special Forces Commander Major Jim Gant with journalist Ann Scott Tyson in Afghanistan in 2011.

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A Special Forces commander in the US Army sacrificed his career over a secret love affair with a journalist deep in Taliban and al Qaeda country, a new book reveals.

Green Beret Major Jim Gant was relieved of command in March 2012, after spending almost a year living with Washington Post war correspondent Ann Scott Tyson in a combat outpost in Afghanistan.

After 22 months in combat he was airlifted out in disgrace, amid allegations of "immoral and illegal activities and actions" and substance abuse.

Now the couple have come forward to tell their story in a book titled American Spartan: the promise, the mission and the betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant.

In an interview with ABC News, Tyson said they fell in love over the course of a week, after meeting in 2010.

She quit her job, moved to Afghanistan and lived in secret with Gant among the Pashtun tribes as his "wife", filming and reporting on his activities.

He taught her how to fire all the weapons used by the Special Forces, and kept a spare pistol in case she needed it for a fight.

Gant was known for his unconventional tactics, and in 2009 declared the United States could only succeed in war by earning the loyalty of the country's Pashtun tribes.

He proposed tribal engagement teams who would live inside the villages and be "American tribesmen", ABC reported.

Gant grew a full beard and adopted native clothing, earning the trust of the tribe.

Tyson wrote in the book that he eventually became "more Pashtun than the Pashtuns". She claims he was even targeted for death by Osama bin Laden.

Meanwhile, Tyson had to ensure she stayed out of the picture, particularly when VIPs she knew from her time as a reporter came to visit.

"We didn't want my presence there to be widely known, but at the same time a lot of people knew about it," she told ABC News.

"I was glad for the opportunity to help the man I had fallen in love with, as well as to write about a potential solution to the incredible suffering I had witnessed over a decade almost."

But it all fell apart when his commander filed a statement on March 11, 2012, saying Gant was often "intoxicated and under the influence of pain medications" - charges Gant admitted to.

He was ordered to shave off his beard and put on a uniform, and had his Green Beret status taken away after a full investigation.

In confidential files, the Army said Gant was relieved because he had "indulged in a self-created fantasy world" with his "wife".

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He and Tyson are now married and living in Seattle, where he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. But he maintains it was all worth it.

"We both knew that there was a lot of risk in doing what we did," he told ABC News.

"And I would do it again."


- Stuff

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