Guest Opinions

No reward for deserters such as Bergdahl

It appears Sgt. Bowe Berdgahl’s attitude was negative from the start. This is borne out by quoted comments from Spc. Jason Fry, who, before deployment, indicated Bergdahl as saying, “If this deployment is lame, I’m just going to walk off into the mountains of Pakistan.”

In Afghanistan, Fry said, “Bergdahl began to gravitate away from his unit, spending more time with the Afghans than he did with his platoon.” In letters to his parents, Bergdahl wrote, and said, twice, “ ... I am ashamed to even be American.”

According to soldiers in Bergdahl’s platoon, the morning when he was discovered to be missing, his equipment was found neatly stacked, with his compass missing. Soldiers who served with Bergdahl have called him a deserter. Cody Full, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon, said: “He knowingly deserted and put thousands of people in danger. We swore to an oath and we upheld ours. He did not.” Full said Bergdahl had mailed his computer and other possessions home prior to his disappearance.

Soldiers don’t fight for “God and country.” No, they fight for, and to protect, their fellow soldiers on their right and left. They become brothers. Leaving one’s unit chips away at the morale of the entire unit; therefore, Bergdahl is complicit in any deaths or casualties that resulted.

Once in captivity Bergdahl was not summarily beheaded. Why? That’s the normal way decadent nonbelievers are treated. Seems to me the Taliban liked him for some reason — he fit in.

Were soldiers killed in operations to find Bergdahl? According to troops involved in operations to find Bergdahl, they said at least six were killed. Pentagon spokesmen have spun that to say that no U.S. soldiers were killed as a result of ops “specifically designed” to search for him. That’s easy to say because every op is multimissioned, thus “not specific.”

Obama’s appearance with Bob and Jani Bergdahl in the White House Rose Garden in the summer of 2014 instantly politicized the situation. Thus, all Obama and Democratic zealots must, by their zealotry, defend Bergdahl and the five-prisoner swap. Emptying Guantanamo seems to be more important. I can agree to a prisoner swap, as done many times in the past when negotiations are done with nonlegacy ideals as a basis: soldier for soldier, not terrorist for soldier. Release of terrorists for an American soldier just begs for more soldiers being captured, actually by anyone these days. Members of Congress have warned that the Bergdahl trade signals to terrorists around the world a greater incentive to take U.S hostages.

Military and civilian sources I interviewed concluded Bergdahl is a deserter. When I asked what his sentence should be, there were a range of responses — depending on how the individual viewed Bergdahl’s mental condition that contributed to his desertion, and to what degree his desertion adversely affected the safety of his fellow soldiers.

Those I talked with indicated anywhere from 10 years to life. My Ranger buddies (and a few Marines) with extensive combat time are, obviously, at the far end of that scale. Surprisingly, several older civilians voted that way; younger people who have not had to deal with soldiers or war all say they just don’t have enough data to respond.

I found, again, that politics is a strong factor. Democratic activists, to a man (and woman), follow the talking points put out by the White House. That bothers me. Why can’t they take politics out of the equation? He walked away from his unit in a combat situation. So is it to be that desertion without penalty becomes the norm?

What is to become of my fine, brave, strong Army? I hope I never see that day. Deserters should not be rewarded.

Thomas J. Woodall, of Boise, is a retired lieutenant colonel who served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for over 20 years before joining Morrison-Knudsen in 1981.

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