It’s a fascinating thing to watch a significant section of the Fundamental Transformation takes place. That section is the United States Armed Force. All the rage—and I do mean rage—right now is the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl was allegedly being held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan. His “release” was reciprocated in that five Taliban leaders, who had been detainees at Guantanamo, were released to the authorities in Qatar. But there’s something about Bowe.
“We were at OP Mest, Paktika Province, Afghanistan. It was a small outpost where B Co 1-501st INF (Airbone) ran operations out of, just an Infantry platoon and ANA counterparts there. The place was an Afghan graveyard. Bergdahl had been acting a little strange, telling people he wanted to “walk the earth” and kept a little journal talking about how he was meant for better things. No one thought anything about it. He was a little “out there”. Next morning he’s gone. We search everywhere, and can’t find him. He left his weapon, his kit, and other sensitive items. He only took some water, a compass and a knife. We find some afghan kids shortly after who saw an american walking north asking about where the taliban are. We get hits on our voice intercepter that Taliban has him, and we were close. We come to realize that the kid deserted his post, snuck out of camp and sought out Taliban… to join them. We were in a defensive position at OP Mest, where your focus is to keep people out. He knew where the blind spots were to slip out and that’s what he did. It was supposed to be a 4-day mission but turned into several months of active searching. Everyone was spun up to find this guy. News outlets all over the country were putting out false information. It was hard to see, especially when we knew the truth about what happened and we lost good men trying to find him. PFC Matthew Michael Martinek, Staff Sgt. Kurt Robert Curtiss, SSG Clayton Bowen, PFC Morris Walker, SSG Michael Murphrey, 2LT Darryn Andrews, were all KIA from our unit who died looking for Bergdahl. Many others from various units were wounded or killed while actively looking for Bergdahl. Fighting Increased. IEDs and enemy ambushes increased. The Taliban knew that we were looking for him in high numbers and our movements were predictable. Because of Bergdahl, more men were out in danger, and more attacks on friendly camps and positions were conducted while we were out looking for him. His actions impacted the region more than anyone wants to admit. There is also no way to know what he told the Taliban: Our movements, locations, tactics, weak points on vehicles and other things for the enemy to exploit are just a few possibilities. The Government knows full well that he deserted. It looks bad and is a good propaganda piece for the Taliban. They refuse to acknowledge it.
(The interesting content excuses the lack of paragraph breaks.)
Did the administration make another mistake? Consider the following about the military and its veterans:
- The scrapping of the Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell policy
- The VA scandal
- The designation of returning veterans as prospective terrorists
- The resignation of top generals
- The firing of top generals on charges that seem…well…made up.
Regardless of one’s opinion on any of these topics, it cannot be denied that the combination of these things have and will Fundamentally Transform the general character of the U.S. military, and subsequently, the nation it defends. As promised. Sleep well.
UPDATE: The mother of 2LT Darryn Andrews:
“It gets really hurtful when I think, this guy was worth my son’s life? My son who was patriotic? Who was a true soldier? Who defended his country with his life?” (…) “That guy was worth that? I don’t think so.”
“I bet you anything there were soldiers killed or wounded capturing those five guys[.]” (…)“So what does that do for their sacrifice? They sacrificed for nothing, because they turned right around and let them go.”
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!