While in Poland on Tuesday, Pres. Barack Obama, defended the prisoner deal that freed US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl at a news conference, saying, “we don’t leave soldiers behind… Whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he is held in captivity. Period. Full stop.”
“That’s what every mom and dad who sends a son or daughter should expect from the United States, he added, pointing out that regardless of how they were captured the US is committed to freeing its prisoners of war.
US Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Bergdahl, is innocent until proven guilty. Bergdahl, who had slipped away from his base near the Afghan border with Pakistan, is thought by many of his fellow soldiers to be a deserter and not a hero. Before leaving his base, Berdahl penned a note saying how he had become disillusioned with the Army and the war and was going to start a new life.
During his time in captivity, Bergdahl was promoted from a private to the Sgt.
Gen. Dempsey stressed that the Army “will not look away from misconduct if it occurred.” He continued saying, “the questions about this particular soldier’s conduct are separate from our effort to recover any US service member in enemy captivity.”
When asked if Bergdahl had deserted his post and would be punished for the offense, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Sunday, “Our first priority is ensuring his well-being and his health and getting him reunited with his family.”
Soldiers in Bergdahl’s platoon said that he had put down his weapons and left the observation post with a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera, and a diary. According to sources, subsequent search operations to find him cost the lives of at least six soldiers.
Another eight soldiers were killed at Command Outpost Keating. Those soldiers died as a result of the delay in closing the outpost,as manpower and assets were redirected for the search for Bergdahl, which was made high priority.
Bergdahl’s fellow troops have stated that they have signed nondisclosure agreements agreeing to never share any information about how Bergdahl disappeared and any of the efforts undertaken to recapture him.
Bergdahl was eventually freed in an exchange between the US and the Taliban where five high-level detainees at Guantánamo Bay were exchanged for his freedom.