By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Since 2009, we as the American people have been “treated” to one of the strangest cases of desertion/kidnapping/prisoner exchange/collaboration with the enemy/and who knows what else in the form of the Bowe Bergdahl case. First he claimed to have been kidnapped, then it looked like he had deserted his base, then that he had been “flipped” by the enemy, then his dad gave a weird speech in a Rose Garden ceremony that almost seemed Bowe’s father was sympathetic to the enemy. Then Bowe went back to work for a while, then he vanished from the news cycle, and then all of a sudden he was pleading out for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Strangeness begets strangeness.
It needs to be remembered that soldiers were severely injured and/or lost their lives while looking for Bowe, and all the interviews I have seen have indicated that those who returned from the search and rescue detail believe Bowe is guilty of treason. For them, a desertion conviction may very well seem light weight. It is also disturbing that we gave up 5 jihadists for Bowe, and while I question if that was wise, there may be one ray of light coming forth all these years later, and I’ll get to that in a minute.
To add to the strangeness of this adventure are Bowe’s comments about himself. Interestingly, there are over 25 hours of interviews with him that are on film, something that would have made me nervous if I were his JAG lawyer. And then there’s the blog, wherein he talks about his motives for leaving his post.
“I was trying to prove to myself, I was trying to prove to the world, to anybody who used to know me … I was capable of being what I appeared to be,” Bergdahl says. “I had this fantastic idea that I was going to prove to the world I was the real thing.”
Ok, I don’t know what he means by that, or what led him to completely change his tune and plead guilty. I do know that he has had problems that caused him to be rejected by the Coast Guard, and unfortunately, the stereotypical statement that the Army will take anybody looks like it wants to be true. So what is the one blessing that has come out of this mess?
It is this: human intel, one of the most important components of any campaign, and apparently, Bowe is a veritable treasure trove of the stuff, and his years of living with the enemy are finally going to be put to good use. He is able to give great detail with regard to a number of important factors such as teaching our soldiers how to survive being confined in small places. Bowe was able to make detailed sketches of the cage in which he lived, and a replica has been made for training. Basically, S.E.R.E. Training , which means Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape has been able to be updated, which is enormously helpful. Understanding how the enemy works is important, and I am glad that something good is coming out of this, one of the oddest cases in the history of American military justice.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner