An Officer's Path To Dissent: "The Truth Is, I Fought For Next To Nothing"

Authored by Major Danny Sjursen via,

For a while there, I was a real star. High up in my class at West Point, tough combat deployments in two wars, a slew of glowing evaluations, even a teaching assignment back at the military academy. I inhabited a universe most only dream of: praised, patted and highly respected by everyone in my life system and viewed as a brave American soldier. It’s a safe, sensible spot. For most, that’s enough. Too bad it was all bunk. Absurdity incarnate.


Maj. Danny Sjursen gathering coordinates to set up an airstrike while under fire during a patrol in Afghanistan's Kandahar province. (Danny Sjursen)

The truth is, I fought for next to nothing, for a country that, in recent conflicts, has made the world a deadlier, more chaotic place. Even back in 2011 - or even 2006, for that matter - I was just smart and just sensitive enough to know that, to feel it viscerally.

Still, the decision to publicly dissent is a tough one. It’s by no means easy. Easy would be to go on playing hero and accepting adulation while staying between the lines. Play it safe, stick to your own, make everyone proud. That’s easy, intellectually immature - the new American way.

When you take the journey of dissent, you lose friends, alienate family, confuse confidants and become a lonely voice in your professional world. I’ve spent years sitting in military classrooms from West Point to Fort Knox to Fort Leavenworth as the odd man, the outlier, the confusing character in the corner. It’s like leaving the church, becoming an atheist, all while still living in the monastery. Still, the truth is that the military is more accommodating than one might suspect. I wrote a critical book, published some skeptical articles, but it’s not as though anyone ever outright threatened me. The pressure is different, more subtle: veiled warnings from superiors, cautious advice from mentors.

I waited too long. I admit as much. Maybe I needed a decade to stew, or perhaps my brief sojourn in civilian graduate school shook something loose. Nonetheless, a few years back, the emotional weight was unbearable and out poured the dissenting waves.

Looking back, I can just about see my own path—what I saw, how it felt—and trace the guideposts and way points on the road to a spiritual and intellectual rebirth. The images flicker, mental fragments that explain my wayward trek to dissension.

In Baghdad, I saw chaos unleashed, watched a sectarian civil war unfold, witnessed the strife our ill-advised, unprepared invasion unleashed. We were terrified voyeurs to the tragedy playing out before us. Militias left gruesome bodies in the streets for us to find. The Sunnis cut off heads, the Shiites preferred power drills to the temples and joints. Both sides attacked us. Through it all, locals treated us to stories of how matters had been better under the secular brutality of Saddam Hussein.

Then there were the patrols. So many patrols. They were mostly useless, of course. Show presence, provide security, don’t get blown up. Then our kids started getting hit. It comes in flashes. Scrubbing your sergeant’s blood out of the Humvee so you can patrol the next morning. Cleaning up another soldier’s skull, fatally penetrated by a copper slug, his face frozen in a look of terror, trash from the filthy east Baghdad street beside his cheek.

The aftermath of car bombs in the marketplace. The haze of smoke and stench of burning flesh. Ordinary Iraqis: the usual victims.

Leaving the war zone. Back home. Alcohol. My driver’s suicide, hanging from a belt in his closet.

Time passes, another mate dead - overdose, prescription pills. Dead kids, my boys, and the wives and mothers I did not have the courage to face for years.

Nothing improved. Not really. The end state was Islamic State, fracture, more death, Trump, a new American crusade on the Euphrates.

Next was Afghanistan, the unwinnable war. The 13th-century irrigation system. Realizing the locals don’t want to live in our image, don’t yearn to be Americans. Knowing most villagers—at least down south—generally agreed with the basic contours of the Taliban agenda. “Allied” sheikhs and “friendly” Afghan government officials who grew the illegal poppy our patrols slogged through. Obtuse American colonels who wanted to wall off or barb-wire Afghan villages as if we were in Baghdad, South Africa or worse.

Eating with Afghan police, soldiers and militia in the Kandahar district. (Danny Sjursen)

Discerning, eventually, as I sat on the sandbags of my small outpost—the Alamo of Kandahar province—that we only really held the ground we stood on. Nothing else. Turning down invitations from Afghan “partners” to attend their regular hash-smoking buggery parties. Explaining to U.S.-trained Afghan officers—outsiders from the north who didn’t even speak the local language—that they must stop torturing their own deserters. Appearances and all.

Watching young men lose limbs and lose lives to pad the resumes of aggressive majors who want to be colonels and colonels who want to be generals. Some could hardly spell “Afghanistan.” Still, they mostly succeeded in promotion. Maybe they’ll run the next war.

Seventeen years, thousands of Americans still there, and the Taliban control more of the country than at any time since Uncle Sam’s invasion. We may never leave.

Through it all was the guiding question: Has anything I’ve done - or we’ve done - made Americans’ lives any better? More importantly, has it measurably improved the world? What if we’ve made it worse?

On a day in Afghanistan in 2011, I realized everything I was doing, and the only thing I still cared about was damage control, protecting our troops from needless death. I basically was phoning it in and should have known it was time to quit, lest I lose more of my soul. Even so, the easy path beckoned.

Of course, I’d tried to convince myself, as so many do, that staying in the military is courageous, that it’s possible to change the system from the inside, and that good people, critical thinkers, need to stay the course rather than jump ship. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s fantasy. Who knows?

This business damages you, takes something from you, a permanent loss. It affects everyone differently. Probably, I’m a distant outlier.

Anyway, nowadays my heart is with the Rohingya in Myanmar, Palestinians in Gaza, places, oftentimes, where I’ve never even been, people I’ve never met. It’s a sad world once you’re that inside yourself.

Still, life trudges along. My wife shops for paint colors for our new house, engages with the kids, lives in the moment. I struggle with such practicalities, because, in so many ways, I’m not here. Not most of me. I’m in Baghdad, staring in wonder at the aftermath of a truck bomb. In Afghanistan, delivering a memorial address for one of my dead troopers, a kid, to be honest, that I hardly knew.

Maj. Danny Sjursen, left, with “Ali,” an interpreter, on patrol in Afghanistan. (Danny Sjursen)

I’ll likely die a sad man. This much I know.

But for now, I can give voice to a different path, a nobler cause, a chance, at least a chance, of common sense, sober strategy and, just maybe, a semblance of peace—something a whole generation has never known. In my own minuscule way, I’ll try.

We, the few of us who care to question, owe at least that much.


navy62802 Thu, 01/04/2018 - 19:10 Permalink

This guy should shut his fucking mouth and enjoy his retirement. I served in the same AOR. I'm also disappointed with the way things turned out. But I'm not going to turn coat and bad-mouth my country. The US is still the only place on earth I would choose to live.

robertsgt40 bobcatz Fri, 01/05/2018 - 12:56 Permalink

As a Vietnam vet, I know where this guy is coming from. I woke up 25yrs ago. I mentor a few high school and college kids. First and foremost I tell them them the govt is not your friend and never join the military, no matter how "patriotic" you feel. My definition of a patriot is someone who will defend their country from the government.  

In reply to by bobcatz

atomic balm robertsgt40 Fri, 01/05/2018 - 14:57 Permalink

 My definition of a patriot is someone who will defend their country from the government.  


This patriot stopped voting way back in 1968 as a wee lad of 22.


See Our Enemy the State by Alfred J Nock. . ."All governments throughout history were established for one reason- economic exploitation."


Government is for the rich elite establishment, for long entrenched families, for the aristocracy.  MILITARY IS THE ENFORCEMENT ARM OF THESE BASTARDS.  Why the B2 flyover [the Rose Parade]?  A hint is being delivered- perhaps this weapon will one day be used on you-all.


Eisenhower warns about MIC in 1961:


Everything since 1900 has been one big bubble, with one objective- to enslave Reality, perhaps (((to enslave God))). . .


The militia is the people's real agency of self defense.  Let every White man be armed. . .

In reply to by robertsgt40

wise_owl_says... Mr. Universe Thu, 01/04/2018 - 22:57 Permalink

I believe in what America was (a constitutional republic), not what it is and certainly not what is transforming into. The enemy (lawmakers that defend royalties UNITED STATES OF AMERICA corporation,  piracy incorporated in Puerto Rico nonetheless) have infiltrated, entrenched, and surrounded any sovereign citizens that are left in The United States of America.  Treason from highest levels knowingly complicit (congress and senate) to lowest levels unknowing order takers (military and police) is being conducted daily and with impunity. Filthy FRN / BIS / FBI / CIA / NSA / TSA / USA / CBP / FED / credit / hollyweird movie propaganda / media outlets / CFRs / mortgages / marriage laws / birth certificates / certificates of death / stawk trading / crypto currencies / porn / fuckbook / etc. etc.  has turned good men into most vile ilke, convincing them that God fearing, law abiding, conservative citizens are enemies of the state. When any semblance of God has been completely eliminated by current modern progressive psychology, hell will break loose.

In reply to by Mr. Universe

Erwin643 Sam Clemons Fri, 01/05/2018 - 01:32 Permalink

Hell, I realized it way before I ever got my Commission!

Was at 19 years of service (Army Reserve status) when I got tired of getting screwed in the enlisted ranks and applied for Direct Appointment, after seeing officers from LTC on-down doing the same work in MI as enlisted people.

So guess what? I retired as a CPT (O-3E), after doing back-to-back TDY tours as a Military Intelligence Officer, stateside, during the wars.

And yes, doing the same work as enlisted people.

How's that for playing my hustle off of Bush & Cheney's hustle?

In reply to by Sam Clemons

wildbad Sam Clemons Fri, 01/05/2018 - 02:56 Permalink

i realized this when i was watching the evening news in the 60's and seventies and hadn't yet had a boner.
i realized this long before recruitment age
i respect the courage that one has to have to join up but find it a disgrace that people can't see the facts before they do.
all of you turds and trolls here that can't see any bravery in this guy's story are also pathetic.
all of you idiots who push the brain dead pro military murder that the usa has been doin since WWII are too stupid to criticize, you are pathetic pussies, swimming with the jingoist tide and afraid to make waves

In reply to by Sam Clemons

Endgame Napoleon justa minute Fri, 01/05/2018 - 01:20 Permalink

He is a terrific, melodic writer. Considering 9/11, he did not fight in Afghanistan for nothing. The US had to respond to that attack, the second biggest attack on US soil, albeit I see his point about the futility of nation-building—there or anywhere else. There was no need to get into multiple conflicts after Afghanistan. How about employing these troops to plug our Swiss-cheese borders? 

In reply to by justa minute

a Smudge by an… Scanderbeg Thu, 01/04/2018 - 20:47 Permalink

Flawed thinking. "The people" are too disparate to be coordinated. Some realize, some are in denial (and will stay there), many are still so enfranchised in "America the great" that they'll fight you for dissent. Some simply don't give a shit. Live is complicated enough without "government hassles" coming into it.

If you wait for some moment where everything suddenly changes and people wake up, well, you'll go through your entire life waiting.

In reply to by Scanderbeg

Freddie Scanderbeg Thu, 01/04/2018 - 21:10 Permalink

This has been going on since the American Civil War aka another Roth$child bankster$ war.   Every war is like this.  

After WW1 the US military attacked the Bonus Vets for money they were promised.  MacArthur led the military thugs with Patton and also Ike. 

The US public and soldiers get f**ked over by the $$$ elites endlessly but keep waving the flag and we have to stand up to ______ in the next war. 

In reply to by Scanderbeg

Freddie veritas semper… Thu, 01/04/2018 - 21:25 Permalink

Dr. Steve Piczenyk on Info Wars did a pretty weird video on his own site a few months ago.He worked for State Dept, CIA etc.   He said Russia has a secret exile area in southern Russia that is supposedly a nice place.  It is where exiled and faked death dictators go to retire including Saddam.   Even more of what you are told is BS. 

He said Putin and Russia provide various services for a fee.  We know the Russians, who Dems, NeoCons and deep state hate (really oligarch beating putin is who they hate).   Well we know they provide a taxi service to the space station, another MIC huge waste of money. 

Another service is the supply line into and out of Afghanistan plus logistics etc.  He said US helicopters cannot really operate there due to high altitudes so they use Russian HIND's in many cases.   So Russia probably makes a few billion or more a year off the phony war/drug running op in Afghanistan.   Dr. Steve P says that Putin is just a smart business man. 

In reply to by veritas semper…

Deckchair Freddie Thu, 01/04/2018 - 21:43 Permalink

Interesting...I worked in Siberia recently, a Russian who could speak perfect English was just off to Afghanistan to translate for Russian helicopter pilots. I was surprised, he was getting 5000 USD a month, wasn't aware the Russian army had much of a presence there. Maybe it was to ship US materiel.

In reply to by Freddie

Beam Me Up Scotty Juggernaut x2 Thu, 01/04/2018 - 19:36 Permalink

" This guy should shut his fucking mouth and enjoy his retirement. "

Maybe you should realize the truth, and this is the first time I have seen someone in the military actually say the TRUTH.  We haven't accomplished SHIT in the last 17 years.  We are STILL just as scared of brown people in caves as we were on 9/11/2001.  The truth is, you have been played.  Played by your own government.  You get to pretend you are some "hero" and take your long arm and pat yourself on the back for "protecting our freedoms".  What freedom?  The freedom to shop?  The freedom to take a vacation a year? The freedom to pay taxes? The freedom to be surveilled?  The freedom to have your patriotism questioned if you don't believe in bombing everyone all around the world who doesn't agree with us?  To nation build?  To bomb Doctors without Borders?  The military should be a defensive force.  Kick the shit out of anyone who attacks us.  We have two large oceans on either side of us.  Islamic terrorists can't attack us unless we let them into our country.  When all of my emails, txts, phone calls etc. are being recorded and spied upon, this isn't George Washington's "free country" that the revolutionary war was fought for.  Its something else.

In reply to by Juggernaut x2

SixIsNinE Beam Me Up Scotty Thu, 01/04/2018 - 20:02 Permalink

here's how a group of racists and bigots treat a woman who simply exercises her right of travel or not to travel:

Pro-Israel racists group calls Lorde a 'bigot' in full-page ad in Washington Post


A full-page advertisement has been taken out in the Washington Postcalling Kiwi musician Lorde a bigot and accusing New Zealand of prejudice against Israel.

The ad on the fifth page of the paper's December 31 edition - taken out by outspoken rabbi Shmuley Boteach's This World: The Values Network - criticises the 21-year-old for joining "a global anti-semitic boycott of Israel" but still performing in Russia.

Oh, here's how the same group of racists treat a woman who dared to call a jew a jew:

daughter of Redskins owner appears in court after spending the night in a holding cell for anti-Semitic assault on New Year's Eve as she faces SEVEN years in prison

  • Jacqueline Cooke, 29, appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday after being arrested Wednesday afternoon for allegedly assaulting a jew lawyer
  • She is facing a felony charge of assault with intent to cause physical injury with a weapon (her handbag)  after allegedly bashing Matthew Haberkorn

Hurry Up Euro Fartbook & Twattergoogs,  better censor quick, the Goy's Know!

In reply to by Beam Me Up Scotty

Baron von Bud Beam Me Up Scotty Thu, 01/04/2018 - 20:31 Permalink

These wars were never meant to be won. They are meant to cause chaos. To spend a trillion dollars so the arms manufacturers back home make money and the military gets promotions and pensions. It's just a massive money game to enrich the bankers and the insiders Our nation is totally lost. Now they're causing trouble in Iran. Another day, another dollar.

In reply to by Beam Me Up Scotty

SixIsNinE Juggernaut x2 Thu, 01/04/2018 - 20:25 Permalink

and here is a whistleblower of the Air Force's pedo-wing: - The Kinsey Syndrome.

i couldn't believe it - this is the documentary showing how the pedo Kinsey was funded by Rockefeller Foundation money in the 1940s and got pedo's to actually use this fraud "scientific" study of Kinsey to change laws in ALL states about pedo & child rape & abuse.

the poster of this vid, "builder rejected" has dropped a bunch of important vids - here's another one:   

Gang Stalking & V2K Testimony by Private Security Whistleblower

this one is key to the amazon story we saw on zh a few days ago and the Seattle homeless story which has gone nationwide the other day also -  

he's also got some chemtrailing ones documenting the Patriot Act sections which authorize spraying us with experimental chemicals

In reply to by Juggernaut x2