Ah, the Washington Post. Spinmiesters redux.
The chatter about Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been unrelenting ever since the White House announced Saturday that it had swapped five members of the Taliban in detention for the only U.S. service member held by the enemy in Afghanistan.
The buzz isn’t just because Bergdahl had been held in captivity since going missing in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. It’s because it is widely believed that he walked off his base in a war zone with no plans to return. Doing so would be desertion, a crime in the military in which individuals leave their unit with no plans to return, or quit to avoid hazardous duty or “important service.”
Army Secretary John McHugh acknowledged the desertion concerns about Bergdahl on Tuesday, but added that the Defense Department will take “as long as necessary” to help him recover medically from his time in captivity.
“The Army will then review this in a comprehensive, coordinated effort that will include speaking with Sgt. Bergdahl to better learn from him the circumstances of his disappearance and captivity,” McHugh said in a statement. “All other decisions will be made thereafter, and in accordance with appropriate regulations, policies and practices.”
Desertion in itself is not uncommon. Thousands of U.S. service members did so annually during the height of the Iraq war, according to numerous media reports. Those individuals typically deserted while in the United States, however, either before their unit deployed, or while they were home on leave in the middle of a deployment. Many of them sought refuge in Canada, like Kimberly Rivera, an Army private who was sentenced last year to 10 months in prison for fleeing in 2007 from a break in a deployment to Iraq.
What makes Bergdahl’s case so unusual in modern times is that he disappeared while in a war zone. There are remarkably few known cases in recent years in which service members have been accused of fleeing their units while deployed.
More here, if you can handle it: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/06/04/war-zone-deserter-if-so-bowe-bergdahl-joins-a-fascinating-and-bizarre-club/