Investigative Unit 2014: Lawrence of Afghanistan

Special Forces legend had plan to win in Afghanistan, then he was pushed out.

— -- [As 2014 comes to a close, the ABC News Brian Ross Investigative Unit looks back on some major reports over the last year.]

Gant was also winning, a rare circumstance in a counterinsurgency campaign that had gone off the rails not long after U.S. forces first arrived in 2001.

A months-long ABC News investigation broadcast in June found that Gant's PTSD-driven substance abuse was widespread in Special Forces in Afghanistan, who, like him, were still highly effective warriors.

"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, tribal warriors helped the Americans fight back ferociously. They didn't fear Taliban retribution because Gant demanded any attack be met with ten times as much firepower in response.

Gant initially faced a court-martial but in the end accepted retirement and being busted to captain. He hoped that taking it on the chin and fading away as what the command called a "disgrace to the Special Forces Regiment" would spare his loyal soldiers punishment for following his orders or looking the other way when he drank and acted erratically. But seven of his young troops were reprimanded for petty offenses anyway, which crushed their disgraced commander.

And yet many of his men still view Gant as a hero they'd follow anywhere. He said he has found redemption in the factually accurate telling of their story in Tyson's book "American Spartan: The Promise, The Mission And The Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant," and helping two of his Afghan interpreters and their families resettle in Seattle out of of harm's way as America withdraws from the war.

"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.

"He is one to whom we owe a debt of gratitude, even recognizing how things ended for him. Folks make mistakes, obviously," Petraeus said.