Streetwise Professor

September 8, 2015

Dear Mr. President: FU. Sincerely, the Pentagon

Filed under: Military,Politics — The Professor @ 9:16 pm

The Bowe Bergdahl case largely disappeared from view, likely because it was overtaken by so many other foreign policy foulups. The Isis explosion. The Syria implosion. The Iran capitulation.

But the story re-emerged yesterday. Well, sort of re-emerged: the coverage has been muted, at best, despite the fact that the charges are sensational.

Not only did the Pentagon charge Bergdahl with desertion: they charged him with “misbehavior before the enemy,” which could result in his incarceration for life. This is about the most serious charge that can be brought. The UCMJ equivalent of the white feather:

Article 99—Misbehavior before the enemy

Text. “Any member of the armed forces who before or in the presence of the enemy—

(1) runs away;

(2) shamefully abandons, surrenders, or delivers up any command, unit, place, or military property which it is his duty to defend;

(3) through disobedience, neglect, or intentional misconduct endangers the safety of any such command, unit, place, or military property;

(4) casts away his arms or ammunition;

(5) is guilty of cowardly conduct;

(6) quits his place of duty to plunder or pillage;

(7) causes false alarms in any command, unit, or place under control of the armed forces;

(8) willfully fails to do his utmost to encounter, engage, capture, or destroy any enemy troops, combatants, vessels, aircraft, or any other thing, which it is his duty so to encounter, engage, capture, or destroy; or

(9) does not afford all practicable relief and assistance to any troops, combatants, vessels, or aircraft of the armed forces belonging to the United States or their allies when engaged in battle; shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.” ….

Maximum punishment. All offenses under Article 99. Death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.

Based on what was reported about Bergdahl’s conduct, there is a colorable case that he violated (1)-(5), and (7)-(8).

The White House fought tooth and nail to stop the Pentagon from charging Bergdahl for desertion: bad optics, dontcha know, to have embraced a deserter’s family in the Rose Garden, and to have traded 5 hard core terrorists for him.

The Pentagon not only defied Obama on this: they doubled down and charged Bergdahl with desertion and cowardice before the enemy. A charge almost never used. So the Pentagon is saying: Mr. President, you embraced the family of an utterly dishonorable coward in the Rose Garden, and traded five terrorists for him.

FU, in other words.

I have been writing for some time that I suspect that there is intense conflict between the White House and the Pentagon. This event is clear evidence that those suspicions are true. (The ongoing Gitmo saga is another example.) The Bergdahl swap offended the Pentagon’s sense of honor, and this is its way of making that plain.

Unfortunately, this has largely fallen on deaf ears. There has basically been one AP story, which appeared on Labor Day. (My guess is that the administration pressured the Pentagon to bury the story on a holiday weekend.) As usual, the media covers for Obama.

It is a big deal-or it should be-when the Pentagon defies the president so flagrantly, and pugnaciously. That is the sign of a deeply dysfunctional civilian-military relationship. This is particularly disturbing when the nation faces so many security challenges simultaneously: under these circumstances, it is dangerous to have a military at odds with its commander in chief, and vice versa. This story is about much more than Bergdahl. But it is getting no coverage whatsoever. Instead, we get wall-to-wall coverage of the Trump Circus. Both are symptoms of a troubled Republic.

Update (9/9/15). For further evidence of a deeply dysfunctional relationship between civilian command authority and the military, see this article about alleged distortion of intelligence about the “war” against Isis. This administration corrupts all it touches. The VA. The IRS. The EPA. And now, the military and the intelligence community.

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  1. Ms. Clinton’s flagrant and criminal negligence in not protecting national security in her unsecured email communications during her tenure as Sec’y of State is another example of the dysfunctional relationship of this Administration to our military.
    How can it be that no one at the White House noticed that official emails to Madame Sec’y weren’t going to some sort of .gov address?
    Could it be that she was actually Sec’y of Yoga,Recipes and Wedding Plans rather than Sec’y of State?

    Comment by AndyEss — September 9, 2015 @ 12:18 am

  2. I think you underestimate the people out there, SWP.

    This has not fallen on deaf ears. These days, just because media idiots don’t cover something does not mean people don’t know about it. There is the Internet, after all.

    And quite a few former military personnel.

    And quite a few people who honor and respect the military – and who were outraged at yet another Obummer screw-up.

    Comment by elmer — September 9, 2015 @ 8:08 am

  3. Obama will go down in history as the least respected commander in chief ever by the military. I think there will be some interesting books to be written by former generals and admirals after Obama’s administration is finally over. I am not a Obama hater but I find it frustrating how the elite media always instinctively supports him on ALL his decisions and policies. I think the NYT is the most egregious boot licker.

    Comment by Kim — September 10, 2015 @ 2:41 pm

  4. The virtual purge of military officers, the reduction in troop count, the harassment of Christians, the pushing of females into combat units, etc, all are signs of an Administration at war with our military establishment, traditions, and war-fighting abilities.

    Remember when he went to West Point to announce his plan for an Afghan surge? The cadets gave him a cool reception at best. I suspect most understood the Afghan scale-up as a no-win move, seemingly designed to attrite our forces further and over the long term.

    Obama is playing a dangerous game here. He should have learned from the later Roman caesars. When a new Caesar came to power, the first thing he did was visit the legions handing hour gold to all. Obama has done just the opposite, cutting off careers and slicing pay and benefits. His stupid SJW moves insult the profession of arms and turn service into a PC Hell hole.

    As much as I fear Obama, I fear a military coup even more. We should be able to recover from Obama with 8 years of a strong conservative president. A military coup is a huge risk of permanent damage to the Republic. I for one will decline any invitation to ride in Air Force One with Obama, given some of elite replacement techniques pioneered by the Chinese.

    Comment by Whitehall — September 16, 2015 @ 4:00 am

  5. @Whitehall-In the next few days I will write a post re the most recent SJW moves, most notably from SecNav.

    I doubt that it will come to a coup. But the alienation of the military leadership from the civilian leads to many dysfunctional outcomes. The more likely outcome is a passive-aggressive form of insubordination from the military. Nothing so explicit as to constitute a direct challenge to authority, but resistance in myriad smaller ways that poisons the civil-military relationship and degrades military effectiveness.

    The civil authorities will do what Obama is doing: stocking the 2-4 star ranks with careerists, non-entities, and toadies. Thus, as in a banana republic, the passive-aggressive resistance will be centered at the O5-O6 levels (LTC, COL, CDR, CAPT).

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — September 16, 2015 @ 8:42 am

  6. Obamas mission from day one has been the overthrow of America. He is but a puppet of a ancient group who have been terrorists dating back to the crusades and before. Their mission has always been world domination by brutal force, even on their own. Shame on the voter who supported this puppet and the non voter who is so complacent they force the rest of the free world to suffer his actions.

    Comment by rIDENEZ @74 — September 24, 2015 @ 6:44 am

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