Words by Mike Weisbecker.
Well Bowe Bergdahl has returned to the Army after 5 years as what? A captive? An honored guest?
The backlash from this whole mechanism to get him released is flaring up worse that the VA scandal this event is stealing inches of newsprint from (remember newsprint?)
When he first was discovered missing in 2009 there were questions of how he ended up in Taliban hands. Over a week of intensive searching ensued and standing orders to units in that part of Afghanistan to act on any rumors/intel of his whereabouts. Some combat deaths in the region are being attributed to the fact that the Taliban knew we would be searching for our missing soldier and mounted more attacks and IED’s to take advantage of this.
Eventually as time wore on this story slid out of the public view as most unresolved ones do (Malaysia 370 anyone?). Other than the folks with a vested interest in his release, you might see a quick blurb on him in a piece on the war there.
Fast forward to this past week. All of a sudden the US had to act in this person’s best interest and negotiate with the Taliban through Qatari intermediaries to arrange a trade. 5 Taliban terrorists from Gitmo for one private promoted in captivity to Sergeant. The President spoke in the Rose Garden with Bergdahl’s parents at his side. Much was said about how we never leave a man behind.
But what if that man wanted to leave in the first place?
Since Saturday the picture painted by many of his former platoon mates of someone who had grown disillusioned with his part in the mission and had lost faith in that mission. He mentioned wanting to see what was on the other side of those mountains and if he could get to China that way. He had boxed up most of his belongings and, according to an uncorroborated report by Rolling Stone magazine in 2012, had emailed his family on his intentions to desert and left a note on his cot saying something to the same effect. No one knows how he left the camp and how he ended up with the Taliban in that region.
Various reports state that an Army investigation was conducted in 2010. But until we have Bowe’s side of the story we have only the eyewitness accounts of his conduct and character from his platoon mates (many of whom served in Alaska with him) and whatever the investigation found (which is only conjecture other than the assorted “senior military/Pentagon/administration official familiar with the case” crap)
The military seems to be handling the press the right way. Gen Dempsey, Joint Chiefs Chairman, made a statement “[T]he questions about this particular soldier’s conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity,” The way “any” is capitalized tells me that the Army will do the right thing and get down to whether or not Bergdahl did desert. Until then, we can have our opinions, but he is still innocent until proven guilty.