The Bergdahl Travesty: A Commander’s Perspective

After more than eight years after Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl walked off his base in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban, Bergdahl walks a free man but as Lt. Colonel Robert “Buzz” Patterson said about the military judge decision, “You also freed a deserter that will now cash in on his notoriety.”

Lieutenant Colonel Robert “Buzz” Patterson: 

Congratulations Colonel Jeffrey Nance. Your verdict yesterday allowing Bowe Bergdahl to walk away without serving a single day in prison is yet another victory for anti-military leftists and a blow to the Constitution that you, personally, swore to support and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic… Foreign and domestic. You’ve continued the assault on the Pentagon by those who see our military as a social engineering petri dish and not an institution of lethal firepower and defense. You’ve sided with those who want to attack the martial values and Judeo-Christian ethic that is the foundation of military service. And, simultaneously, you’ve created a new icon for the Antifa, Soros, anti-American movement, that will no doubt revel in the attention he’ll receive.

I don’t know you, Colonel Nance, I haven’t read your biography, but I’m guessing you’ve never commanded men and women in combat… for if you had, you’d understand the outraged reaction of our nation and your peers across the Department of Defense. If you had ever commanded, you would have known better. Instead, you let a confessed deserter, one of the most highly-profiled in decades; walk away with only a dishonorable discharge, a reduction in rank and a $10,000 fine. He abandoned his fellow soldiers during a time of war yet he gets off with a virtual slap on the wrist. How, on Earth, could you come to that conclusion? What were you thinking? He pled guilty and you let him go.

Now, your decision will send unnecessary shockwaves throughout the U.S. military. You’ve set an undeniable precedent that current and future commanders will have to grapple with. As if they don’t already have enough to deal with as America faces down Islamic evil worldwide, confronts the rapidly emerging nuclear threat in North Korea, and deals with the ever-present tensions with fellow superpowers Russia and China. You’ve also done an incredible disservice to those men who died or were maimed trying to find Bergdahl. For example, Sergeant First Class Mark Allen, who was paralyzed and lost the ability to talk or take care of himself while searching for Bergdahl. Bergdahl gets to walk but Sgt. Allen doesn’t. The sergeant avoids a life sentence but the families of those tasked with finding him, don’t.

As a retired officer and former commander in the U.S. Air Force, I shudder to contemplate the consequences your decision will have. You have created a precedent that directly contradicts a units’ morale, order, and discipline. You have removed accountability from the leadership tool box. Now, when a disgruntled airman wants to walk away from his duties, he has a living, breathing example… and, a freed one. Now, when a sailor is on liberty in a foreign port of call, he can terminate his service without severe repercussions.

You also freed a deserter that will now cash in on his notoriety. Bergdahl will, no doubt, lock up a future book deal, a speaking career, possibly a reality show, maybe even a movie. Even more incentive for members of our military to look to do the same, and more challenges and headaches for our military leaders at a time when they don’t need any additional problems or casualties.

From this commander’s view, the Bergdahl desertion has been handled absolutely horribly. First, by the Barack Obama administration agreeing to transfer five high-value combatant detainees (the “Taliban Five”) for the Army sergeant and staging a Rose Garden ceremony to celebrate it. Susan Rice, yes that Susan Rice, called Bergdahl’s service “honorable.” Telling, that the Obama administration would release the enemy captured on the battlefield and consider a soldier leaving his comrades’ behind during combat to join the enemy “honorable.” Only in their “America last” thinking could that ever be the case.

You have significantly compounded the problem Colonel Nance. You’ve singlehandedly contradicted U.S. military law and tradition. In doing so, you have forever altered how our military organizations will be commanded and traitors prosecuted. You’ve joined the ranks of those who’ve declared war on our armed services. This commander doesn’t agree or appreciate it. I’m sure thousands currently serving feel precisely the same.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert “Buzz” Patterson, a retired United States Air Force combat pilot, distinguished White House military aide, bestselling author, leadership consultant, popular public speaker and former commercial airline pilot.

Worse yet, the lead defense attorney for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl said he wants him to receive the Prisoner of War Medal.

Reporter’s Note:

As far as the Prisoner of War Medal, all I have to say is, “For what? Being stupid and putting his fellow soldiers in harm’s way?”

The Prisoner of War Medal criteria states: It is awarded to any person who was taken prisoner or held captive while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing armed force; or while serving with friendly forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

Does Bergdahl deserve such a medal under the above criteria? The answer is an unquestionable no!

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Fmr. Sgt, USAF Intelligence, NSA/DOD; Studied Cryptology at Community College of the Air Force

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