Beau Bergdahl has been returned to “active duty.” Apparently, that means a desk job while the Army considers what should be done with this young enlisted soldier. Bergdahl was held for five years by the Taliban since walking away from his post one night in 2009.
President Obama greeted Bergdahl’s relieved parents in Rose Garden at the White House in a move widely criticized. And that was even before Americans learned that the Obama administration had traded young Bergdahl for five of the most murderous Taliban detainees from our facility at Guantanamo Bay.
Duty. There seems to be much confusion about the word today. The fifth general order that recruits are required to memorize in Boot Camp defines it as a military duty “to quit my post only when properly relieved.” It is not yet clear that Beau Bergdahl committed any disloyal act in walking off his post in Afghanistan. We may find upon a probing investigation that he was dazed, depressed, drunk, or drugged. A full and fair inquiry is required.
But this much is already clear: Beau Bergdahl quit his post in Afghanistan without being properly relieved. He did not do his duty. A number of his fellow soldiers have been outspoken in describing Bergdahl’s dereliction of duty. They did their duty in Afghanistan and we should be forever grateful to them for putting their own lives on the line.
A number of Bergdahl’s platoon members have said that other U.S. soldiers died in an attempt to find this AWOL soldier. We don’t know that yet. We do know, however, how many U.S. soldiers have died trying to capture, kill, or suppress the Taliban: 2,194. Salon, the liberal website, keeps an updated tally of the costs of this U.S. effort.
As past American wars have gone, this is not a huge number. We lost more than that number of Americans on D-Day. Still, for those brave warriors, and for their families, the loss of any American life is a serious matter. That’s why the deaths of four Americans at Benghazi continues to roil the waters in Washington, as it should.