So Bowe Bergdahl has been released in exchange for five Taliban detainees. I’m happy we have him back, but what would otherwise be euphoria over the return of a Brother-in-Arms, is tempered by the fact that he deserted during wartime.
UCMJ Article 85. Desertion
(a) Any member of the armed forces who–
(1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently;(2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service; or(3) without being regularly separated from one of the armed forces enlists or accepts an appointment in the same or another on of the armed forces without fully disclosing the fact that he has not been regularly separated, or enters any foreign armed service except when authorized by the United States; is guilty of desertion.
(b) Any commissioned officer of the armed forces who, after tender of his resignation and before notice of its acceptance, quits his post or proper duties without leave and with intent to remain away therefrom permanently is guilty of desertion.
(c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.
Bowe Bergdahl left OP Mest in Paktika Province, where he was a member of B 1/501st (ABN). He left in the dead of night, without his weapon and kit. And according to some who served with him, he left after acting and speaking strangely…about the war, his ‘purpose in life’, etc….
Some of his teammates have stated other points about his ‘capture’…but that isn’t confirmed, at least for public knowledge. But we do know this…..as soon as he entered status as a DUSTWUN [Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown]…a massive amount of resources were pulled away from scheduled missions, countless lives were endangered [and some quite possibly lost] looking for Bergdahl and his ‘captors’. Some accounting can be read over at The Liberty Zone. Another unverified source is the Twitter account of one who claims to have been in Bergdahl’s platoon at OP Mest. I can’t vouch for the account, but as a longtime Infantry guy….his accounts ring true.
Although he will be the subject of an Article 15-6 investigation, I think it is likely that the ruling will be that he had ‘suffered’ enough at hands of his captors, and he will be medically discharged from service with a pretty enormous amount of back pay and the status of former prisoner of war. Nobody is going to wish to shine light on how Bergdahl’s actions prior to his ‘capture’ went unnoticed, unreported, or un-actioned. Nobody is going to wish to shine lift on how Bergdahl was able to leave OP Mest undetected and unmolested.
Much hay is being made of the fact that we ‘negotiated with terrorists’, and the underlying implication that this position is US policy and something we simply do not do. However, a cursory scan of the history of US foreign policy will reveal that we always negotiate with terrorists. And we always will. Much of it doesn’t come to light, and much of it is whitewashed for public consumption, but the fact remains.
Frankly, I’m not worried abut the five Taliban detainees that were released in exchange for Bergdahl. The Quetta Shura Taliban, the Haqqani Network, HiG and lesser groups, do not pose a transitional threat to the homeland.
But this will be another act in the politico-media theater that drives most people’s lives and gives them something to bitch about.