The US Military operates on a simple maxim in combat: “leave no man behind.”. However, we also don’t believe in negotiating with the enemy — especially the non-state, non-uniform Islamic terrorist enemy.
Which is why the plight of Army SGT Bowe Bergdahl presents quite the dilemma. The warrior in me says simply do as General William Tecumseh Sherman would and scorch the earth to find our brother. But naturally, the Obama administration has a different approach in mind.
As reported by the Washington Post in an effort to free American captive Bowe Bergdahl before the bulk of U.S. forces leave Afghanistan this year, the Obama administration has decided to try to resume talks with the Taliban and sweeten an offer to trade Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the Army sergeant. Five members of the Afghan Taliban who have been held at Guantanamo for years would be released to protective custody in Qatar (Taliban representatives remain in Doha, and the office there is a de facto political headquarters) in exchange for the release of Bergdahl, who was captured in Afghanistan in 2009 and is thought to be held in Pakistan by the Haqqani network, an allied insurgent group.
To refresh the American offer, which has been on the table for more than two years, senior officials from the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies decided within the past month to allow the simultaneous release of all five men. Taliban representatives had objected to the previous plan to release the prisoners by ones or twos as a test of Taliban and Qatari intermediaries’ ability to make sure the men did not return to militancy.
But if we do indeed we have intelligence that Bergdahl is being held in Pakistan, why haven’t the Pakistanis supported his extraction – because we certainly haven’t heard about it. I’m just a little skeptical since Osama Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad — the same city that houses the Pakistan Military Academy, their version of West Point — so forgive my lack of trust.
But something just seems a bit out of kilter in this whole situation. Islamic jihadists don’t generally take US troops prisoner, they execute them, often in the primitively brutal manner of ritual disemboweling and beheading.
So why has the Haqqani network held SGT Bergdahl all these years?
Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said U.S. officials have never stopped trying to bring Bergdahl home. What exactly have we been doing since 2009, considering we have superior intelligence gathering and special operations forces. After all, thanks to the kindness of Afghan villagers, we were able to launch an extraction operation to secure former US Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell deep in Taliban territory.
There is no “actionable” intelligence on Bergdahl’s exact location, one official said, and a U.S. military rescue mission has long been effectively ruled out. The United States has even less traction with the Haqqanis, branded a terrorist group in 2012, than with the main Taliban organization. A State Department official met once with Haqqani representatives more than three years ago, but there has been no further contact, two officials said.
Even Bergdahl’s abduction is puzzling. According to the Washington Post, the Army infantryman assigned to a unit from Alaska, was taken captive after walking off his base in the eastern province of Paktika, a decision that confounded his comrades and commanders in Afghanistan. The U.S. military launched a massive manhunt, fearing it would be nearly impossible to find him if his captors smuggled him into Pakistan. The Taliban soon took credit for capturing him and offered to release him in exchange for $1 million and 21 Afghan prisoners.
I spent two and a half years in Afghanistan and an American Soldier doesn’t just walk off a Forward Operating Base (FOB) or anywhere alone. It was SOP even in Kabul that you never went anywhere without a battle buddy. Furthermore, leaving the installation required signing out with destination, time of departure and estimated time of return.
Of course I want Army SGT Bowe Bergdahl back home, but do I want America to negotiate with terrorists and legitimize them? Hell no!
I recall the actions taken in Mogadishu to ensure not one American was left behind. I remember the heroic actions of Army Delta Snipers MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shugart to secure downed Army “Nightstalker” pilot CW3 Michael Durant. They gave their lives to secure the life of one of their own.
I’m quite sure we have warriors willing to do the same for SGT Bowe Bergdahl, but do we have the resolve in civilian leadership? President Obama wants to clear out GITMO but this is not how it should be done. If we do release these jihadists from GITMO, or Haqqani network prisoners in Afghanistan, they should have tracking devices to preclude recidivism. But then again, “what difference at this time does it make?” Karzai just released 66 Islamic terrorists, so what’s the big deal with another five?
Sorry, but I’d prefer kicking these jackasses back into the 7th century – but I guess I’m just hard-wired that way.