With Bergdahl, Army Leaders Must Choose Honor Over Politics

Posted: Feb 02, 2015 12:01 AM
With Bergdahl, Army Leaders Must Choose Honor Over Politics
It’s no surprise that the Obama administration desperately wants to keep Bowe Bergdahl from being convicted of desertion. It can’t even bring itself to call the Taliban terrorists who held him “terrorists.” Maybe that’s because the Administration traded him for five not-terrorist masterminds, at least one of whom is already trying to get back in the not-terrorism game. Maybe it’s because liberals naturally support any service member who betrays his buddies. Secretary of State Bergdahl anyone?
We can’t expect the Obama administration and its liberal media brownnosers to care if our military remains institutionally strong. But we should expect more from our military leaders.
Bergdahlgate is only the latest manifestation of a disastrous trend, and this failure to act on these serious allegations has the potential to further damage an already wounded American military. Let's be clear – the fact that no general has pulled the stars off his epaulets and thrown them down on the table to protest the Bergdahl cover-up is a disgrace.
The American people love their military and – for the moment – respect it more than any other American institution. The effect of a senior general resigning rather than going along with bypassing the Uniform Code of Military Justice for political gain would send shockwaves through Washington. By failing to do the one thing they can do in a system where elected civilian politicians control the military, the generals have become part of the politicians’ lies.
The actions of one likely deserter don't make a trend. It's the complicity in the politically-driven refusal to hold Bergdahl accountable that, if left to fester, will eat out the moral core of the Army. The failure of the Army to act is clearly the result of White House pressure. But the Army’s institutional viability is more important than the political priorities of a bunch of hack politicians whose only time in uniform was when they portrayed Santa’s non-gender specific elves in their Montessori schools’ winter solstice pageants.
Bergdahl’s case demands action. If Bergdahl is a deserter, he must be held to account. The Army must ensure discipline or going forward there will be none. Cowardice, deceit and betrayal will replace personal courage, integrity and selfless service. The military would become the Democrat Party in camo – except military personnel earn their government checks.
And what if Bergdahl is innocent? He now sits, largely thought a traitor by most Americans (frankly, including me), but he has never had his day in court. If he is actually innocent, this is an unspeakable miscarriage of justice. The Army owes Bergdahl a decision too.
Don't buy the nonsense about the investigation not being completed. I've done Army investigations, and with just a fraction of the resources that have no doubt gone into this one. It does not take a half year to interview witnesses, gather evidence and decide whether to move to formal proceedings – especially when there was a full investigation completed while Bergdahl was a captive. The facts are in; this is being stalled because of politics, and that's where the Army generals need to draw the line.
This is another disaster for an American military that's already reeling from a series of self-inflicted wounds. The only way to begin the process of recovery is to do the right thing and either charge Bergdahl or explain why the evidence does not support a court martial.
Civilian control is paramount in the American system, but there is no requirement that the generals participate in this scam. They need to put the interests of the country ahead of their own careers and make it clear that their honor refuses to allow them to participate in this debacle. If you’ve attended military schools – and I did from basic training through the Army War College – you often hear about the dereliction of duty by the senior generals during the Vietnam War. None of them resigned in the face of a disastrous policy, and it took years to wipe away that institutional stain. Now it’s happening again as no senior officer will choose to risk his career rather than be complicit in this farce. The military’s leaders can't off-load their responsibility onto the President; they have their own obligation to the country to act.
Beyond Bergdahl, the military needs to clean house. It is strategically bankrupt, with no clear understanding of what its role will be in the next decade despite generating mountains of position papers and studies. It is tactically confused, unsure of how to train for future threats. Its acquisition system is a corrupt disaster, with institutional priorities taking precedence over tactical needs. How else can one explain the Air Force wanting to ditch the deadly, cheap A-10s so it can buy over-priced, under-performing F-35s that can't even manage to get the software to fire its weapons? And now we have Air Force generals labelling as “traitors” officers who tell people in Congress the truth about how the F-35 is utterly ineffective in the ground attack role that the A-10 excels at.
Don’t even get me started on the many senior officers recently court-martialed or relieved for sexual misconduct, corruption, and/or utterly bizarre behavior, like the Navy destroyer captain who hid out in his quarters for three months.

The failure to do what is right and necessary regarding Bergdahl is a symptom of a larger problem, a moral crisis in our military. The prescription is strong medicine, but nothing less will cure the cancer. We need some Army generals to resign rather than allow this outrage to go on. We will soon see whether the Army’s senior leaders’ priority is their own careers, or the Army they profess to love and the nation they swore to protect.