As part of a Chamber of Commerce program in my hometown of Simi Valley, California, I spent part of the morning touring the facility of one of our largest employers, AeroVironment, the leading supplier of UAV’s to the US military. While our guide was describing the different types of drones and their applications, one theme remained constant:
“We do this so we can bring our military men and women home safely. That is why we do what we do.”
If only Bowe Bergdahl had the same level of concern for his brothers in arms.
At the conclusion of the tour, our guide took us to observe production and said that sometimes members of our military who have used their products will come to the facility and so they can personally thank the workers for what they do – and for saving their lives. When we left the tour, I looked at Twitter and saw the news about Bowe Bergdahl and felt like I was going to throw up.
The anger and revulsion I felt was nothing compared to what those who have served in the military feel. A member of the Air Force who works specifically in rescue was expressing his rage at the sentence to me over messenger, so I asked him if I could share his thoughts here. Due to the nature of his work, his name and location will not be published.
Today at 1200ET Bowe Bergdahl received the same discharge sentence as Airmen I’ve served with who had multiple PT test failures. The difference between the two is that Sgt Bergdahl actually cost the lives of his fellow soldiers due to his desertion. The judge’s finding that his living for five years under Taliban “captivity” is a mitigating factor rings hollow to anyone who wears a uniform. He voluntarily put himself in the position to be a “captive” of Mullah Omar, Osama Bin Laden, or any other warlord who deemed him a valuable bargaining tool.
I vividly remember that every time I logged on to any computer while I was deployed in 2013 I saw Pvt. Bergdahl’s face and a descriptor of him and his “capture.” At the time, the rumors had spread that he hadn’t been captured but had deserted his post. Despite that, the military was still looking for him and was willing to do whatever it took to secure his repatriation. But when President Obama announced that an exchange agreement had been reached, concern was felt throughout the ranks. The terms of the deal didn’t add up. Why would the Taliban just “give up” an American prisoner? And the bigger question: why would the US give up five senior level Taliban officers for a US Private? (He was a Private when he deserted, but was promoted to Sgt during his captivity.)
As we watched the awkward Rose Garden announcement with his parents and then the “exchange,” we all knew something wasn’t right. Although facts were trickling out which proved Sgt Bergdahl had been less than “honorable” in his service, Susan Rice went on the Sunday talk shows. Just like she had after Benghazi, she attempted to gaslight the American people and convince us that our common sense wasn’t to be trusted. As reality became obvious to the American people, the Obama administration continued to tell us all that Bowe Bergdahl had “served with honor.”
As more facts surfaced, there was hope for retribution for those who were killed in an effort to “rescue” him shortly after his desertion. The names of actual heroes lost trying to rescue Bergdahl: 2LT Andrews, SSG Murphey, SSG Bowen, SSG Curtiss, PFC Martinek, PFC Walker.
As a member of the United States Air Force’s premier rescue unit, I share President Trump’s opinion that today’s decision was “a complete and total disgrace to our Country and our Military.” As we prepare to rescue someone who’s been injured or lost to the enemy, we never do so with the mindset they’ve willingly abandoned their post, nor do we ever launch a mission looking for a member that’s willingly put others at harm. Knowing that today Bergdahl walked away while others that searched for him can’t speak is a travesty.
Today’s laughable sentence handed down by the court at Ft Bragg, NC will be used by JAG defense attorneys for decades to ask for a light adjudication in their client’s favor. If desertion and misbehavior before the enemy doesn’t get more than a dishonorable discharge and time served, what will it take to get an actual sentence at Leavenworth? Rarely has there been a time when a broad portion of the civilian populace could say that the military was “too light” in delivering justice.
When I joined the military after 9/11, I knew that I did it to protect America regardless of her political ideals. When I became a member of her premiere CSAR unit, I knew we’d go through hell or high water to bring every last soul home. Today’s decision about Bergdahl changes all of that and shows that as long as an individual fits the political doctrine of an administration, the military will save them. For each member of the world’s greatest military, that hurts.
The same sentence as one receives for failing multiple PT tests. Incredible.