You read it here first: US Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted his unit in combat and aided the enemy with information they used in subsequent attacks of his betrayed unit, is not going to be prosecuted by the Army.
That’s the message sent between the lines by a preparation-of-the-battlefield leak to one of the favorite leakers of the lame-duck SecDef, and of administration DOD political appointees in general, Lolita Baldor of AP.
Baldor has been given a background briefing on how rare prosecution of deserters is, in advance of the announcement. The subtext is, there’s nothing special about this guy, this is all just routine Army administration.
That subtext is, if we need to say it, bullshit.
The U.S. Army has prosecuted about 1,900 cases of desertion since 2001, despite tens of thousands of soldiers fleeing the service in the face of deadly combat, long and multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and strains on military families.
The data reflects how rarely the military takes desertion cases to court. And it underscores the complexities of such cases as a top military commander reviews the investigation of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who left his Afghanistan post in 2009 and was captured and held by the Taliban for five years.
That’s really rare? Most of the 20k deserters DFR are guys who walked off after basic training, or in their first unit. It’s very doubtful that the nearly 2,000 prosecuted were all overseas or combat desertions. Indeed, Bergdahl is the only combat desertion we’re aware of, and the only one who went beyond bugging out to aid the enemy.
In some circles, that makes him a hero. Those would be the same circles that bow to our enemies.
More than 20,000 soldiers have been dropped from the rolls as deserters since 2006, Army data show. Totals for earlier years weren’t available, but likely include thousands more.
In trial cases over the last 13 years, about half the soldiers pleaded guilty to deserting their post. Another 78 were tried and convicted of desertion.
Soldiers who avoid deployment or leave posts in combat zones are more serious cases, particularly if the deserter is responsible for standing guard or protecting others in dangerous places.
The point being, when they let Bergdahl slide they’re not doing anything special.
There’s also one outright falsehood in Baldor’s column: Army spokesman Wayne Hall is quoted claiming that GEN Mark Milley, commander of FORSCOM, has “broad discretion” in the decision about Bergdahl. Anyone who believed Milley has free hands in this has less understanding of the Army than we’d expect from someone like Lolita Baldor (who has been writing nonsense about the military for her whole career). In fact, the decision is a political decision, and Milley’s hands are tied; he’s merely the delivery system for a decision that was made in Washington, and almost certainly in the White House.
The problem is, fundamentally, that the President, his advisors, and the lame-duck SecDef are well-attuned to the sufferings, if any, of Bergdahl, and put much less value on those of his unit peers whom he condemned to injury and death when he turned coat. Indeed, they’re much more sympathetic to the views of the five top Taliban and Haqqani Net terrorists they swapped for him. Being the in Acela Corridor crowd means you can transcend obsolete concepts like Duty, Honor or Country. To those people, Bergdahl is a “hero,” in a rare unironic use of the word, for them.
The Bergdahl trade needs to be rehabilitated, after some of the terrorists released on his behalf were implicated in the Taliban’s murder of 140 Pakistanis, mostly schoolchildren, in a Peshawar school. Connected Army folks think it’s going to happen in the next few days, when eyes are not on DC.
Fortunately for the Taliban, for the politicians who value them more than our own soldiers or their families, and, especially, for traitor Bowe Bergdahl, there are people in the press willing to be their Sons of Ham, “the hewers of wood and the drawers of water.”
Like Lolita C. Baldor of the Associated Press. Whose phone rings every time a Big Lie needs some polish, and wide release.