Streetwise Professor

June 1, 2014

Enforce the Code: “I am an American fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life.”

Filed under: History,Military,Politics — The Professor @ 2:40 pm

You might consider this quaint, but the Bergdahl case brought to mind The Code of Conduct for the United States Fighting Forces. This was adopted in 1954 (the year my dad entered the Army as a draftee) due to the serious breakdowns of discipline by US POWs held by the NoKos and ChiComs in the Korean War.

This code was drilled into me and my classmates at Navy. (Back then, I think it was called The Code of Conduct for the United States Fighting Man.) It was one of the first things we were taught in Plebe Summer, and was the subject of numerous discussions throughout those eight weeks.

The facts as we know them strongly suggest that Bowe Bergdahl violated every article.

Here’s an important part (Article VI.d) that speaks directly to one of my points:

Upon repatriation, POWs can expect their actions to be reviewed, both as to circumstances of capture and conduct during detention. The purpose of such review is to recognize meritorious performance as well as to investigate possible misconduct. Each review will be conducted with due regard for the rights of the individual and consideration for the conditions of captivity; captivity of itself is not a condition of culpability.

It is imperative that such a review take place in Bergdahl’s case, and take place free of any command influence.

This article from the WSJ raises concerns in that regard. It states that the military brass is “ecstatic” at Bergdahl’s return. That hardly suggests that they are committed to investigate possible misconduct.

Interestingly, the article states that troopers, as opposed to the brass, are ambivalent at best. This is understandable, for many reasons. First, Obama has incentivized our enemies to take them prisoner for the purpose of using them as bargaining leverage, thereby increasing the risks they face. Second, the circumstances surrounding his capture are highly suspicious, and colorably dishonorable: you know that there is a lot of gouge that has gone around about Bergdahl, which no doubts informs the ambivalence in the ranks. Third, and perhaps most importantly, Bergdahl slandered his comrades in arms. That is pretty much indisputable. He called them losers and babykillers. Not exactly calculated to make him best loved among those still in the line of Taliban fire.

The Code was adopted for a reason. It has to be enforced for a reason.

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    Comment by oi23hr9823hr92 — June 2, 2014 @ 12:27 am

  2. CNN just had an ex-sergeant on who stated as follows, despite some kind of non-disclosure agreement:

    1) Bergdahl walked off the post

    2) several died trying to find him

    3) he is at best a deserter and at worst a traitor

    PMSNBC is reporting what which you have already posted in your previous post:

    – that “winding down a war” necessitates dealing with “odious people”

    – that the goal has “always” been to negotiate with the Taliban.

    The “reporter” herself started out by saying that the Republicans have “already” accused the prez and the administration of violating the law with respect to the 30-day notification period.

    The excuse is “what were we supposed to do – leave him there?”

    Blurb shows that “Taliban leader declares victory” due to release of the 5 Gitmo guys.

    Comment by elmer — June 2, 2014 @ 2:34 pm


    Javier Ortiz, for one. The Army combat medic told the Washington Post he believes Bergdahl should be tried for desertion. Former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon when he went missing, told CNN, “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”

    And Nathan Bradley Bethea, who served with Bergdahl, wrote that he “was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down” in a recent column for the Daily Beast.

    Comment by elmer — June 2, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

  4. from the comments under the above-posted link:

    2) Here’s the complete background from a fellow soldier, Jeff Howard, who was also there at the time. It includes the names of the 6 soldiers who were killed while looking for him:
    “You want it from the horse’s mouth?? Here ya go..We were at OP Mest, Paktika Province, Afghanistan. It was a small outpost where B Co 1-501st INF (Airbone) ran operations out of, just an Infantry platoon and ANA counterparts there. The place was an Afghan graveyard. Bergdahl had been acting a little strange, telling people he wanted to “walk the earth” and kept a little journal talking about how he was meant for better things. No one thought anything about it. He was a little “out there”. Next morning he’s gone. We search everywhere, and can’t find him. He left his weapon, his kit, and other sensitive items. He only took some water, a compass and a knife. We find some afghan kids shortly after who saw an american walking north asking about where the taliban are. We get hits on our voice intercepter that Taliban has him, and we were close. We come to realize that the kid deserted his post, snuck out of camp and sought out Taliban… to join them. We were in a defensive position at OP Mest, where your focus is to keep people out. He knew where the blind spots were to slip out and that’s what he did. It was supposed to be a 4-day mission but turned into several months of active searching. Everyone was spun up to find this guy. News outlets all over the country were putting out false information. It was hard to see, especially when we knew the truth about what happened and we lost good men trying to find him. PFC Matthew Michael Martinek, Staff Sgt. Kurt Robert Curtiss, SSG Clayton Bowen, PFC Morris Walker, SSG Michael Murphrey, 2LT Darryn Andrews, were all KIA from our unit who died looking for Bergdahl. Many others from various units were wounded or killed while actively looking for Bergdahl. Fighting Increased. IEDs and enemy ambushes increased. The Taliban knew that we were looking for him in high numbers and our movements were predictable. Because of Bergdahl, more men were out in danger, and more attacks on friendly camps and positions were conducted while we were out looking for him. His actions impacted the region more than anyone wants to admit. There is also no way to know what he told the Taliban: Our movements, locations, tactics, weak points on vehicles and other things for the enemy to exploit are just a few possibilities. The Government knows full well that he deserted. It looks bad and is a good propaganda piece for the Taliban. They refuse to acknowledge it. Hell they even promoted him to Sergeant which makes me sick. I feel for his family who only want their son/brother back. They don’t know the truth, or refuse to acknowledge it as well. What he did affected his family and his whole town back home, who don’t know the truth. Either way what matters is that good men died because of him. He has been lying on all those Taliban videos about everything since his “capture”. If he ever returns, he should be tried under the UCMJ for being a deserter and judged for what he did. Bergdahl is not a hero, he is not a soldier or an Infantryman. He failed his brothers. Now, sons and daughters are growing up without their fathers who died for him and he will have to face that truth someday.”

    Comment by elmer — June 2, 2014 @ 2:40 pm

  5. another comment under the above-posted link:

    diane t 1 minute ago

    “This is the second comment I am posting from another fellow soldier of his who is saying the same thing as the first about him deserting and getting fellow soldiers killed- “Commenter” This guy deserted. I was in the same battalion. The 1-501st part of the 4-25 IN (ABN). He left his weapon and his gear and disappeared. What this article does not tell you is that night patrols got sent out once we realized he was gone. One of those patrols hit an IED and two Geronimo’s got killed. So go tell the families of the two dead paratroopers that this guy paid his dues… He needs to face UCMJ, he deserted, got himself captured, and created thus problem for himself, his family, and all the poor service members who have to try to save him.”

    I copied this from another post on this subject. And I sent this post to my email list.

    Comment by elmer — June 2, 2014 @ 2:43 pm

  6. Dean 35 minutes ago

    Two days ago Bergdahl was a hostage. Now he was a POW. Two days ago, the Taliban detainees were terrorists but now they were POW’s. Two days ago the Taliban were terrorists, but now they are soldiers with all of the protections of the Geneva Convention given to enemy combatants. Two days ago, we did not negotiate with terrorists, but Obama changed the definition of terrorists to soldiers so now we are no longer negotiating with terrorists but with the command of the soldiers. According to the Obama Administration this was a POW exchange. Two days ago, it was worthless to terrorists to take hostages because we did not negotiate with terrorists but today the exact same individuals who were terrorists two days ago now have a major incentive to take POW’s which is somehow no longer hostages and negotiate the release of former terrorists, now POWs. We are a party to the UN and to the Geneva Convention, but we just released at least two captives wanted for war crimes. We are the world’s Super Power, but the Obama Administration is making the claim that we did not negotiate, Qatar did, but they have not come up with a way to make that sound anything other than comical, just as their assertion that the terrorists of two days ago are now somehow POWs.

    Comment by elmer — June 2, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

  7. SWP…is this a set-up to justify a swap involving the Blind Sheik? One of Morsi’s campaign pledges was to obtain the release of the Blind Sheik. Now, what would make him think that the release would be possible? Was this possibility signallec by the Obama administration? Was the attack on the Benghazi consulate an attempt to kidnap an ambassador, an American official that would set the stage for bho to swap the Blind Sheik for the release of the ambassador? That scenario, once blown up, would be worth the lies that followed about some movie no one saw.

    Comment by Richard Whitney — June 2, 2014 @ 3:08 pm

  8. Has the WH sent a message to the brass that suggesting an investigation is a career-ender?

    Comment by Richard Whitney — June 2, 2014 @ 6:53 pm

  9. I was at USAFA for a short time. That code was drilled into us as well. I hesitate to write, or comment on this situation since I only know the facts from the media. I try to avoid confirmation bias, because I do not trust Obama and think that every decision he makes is calculated. I also know where his loyalties lie-and it’s not with capitalism or the US. He is a Bill Ayers disciple through and through. Obama detests Guantanamo, but can’t get rid of it because of politics.

    Washington executed deserters. In the Civil War, deserters were executed. In WW2, there is only one record of a deserter being executed-but perhaps other situations “took care of themselves”.

    America values life. It values it’s POWs. There is a conundrum here wrapped up in emotion, and in military decorum, and in national security.

    Comment by Jeffrey Carter (@pointsnfigures) — June 3, 2014 @ 4:32 am

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