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.
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."
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.