Over the weekend, President Barack Obama announced that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, the only American P.O.W. from the Afghanistan war, had been released. Since then, many critics have questioned the decision to swap five top Taliban operatives, held in Guantanamo Bay, for the soldier, saying that swap will ultimately put more lives in danger. Now, many American soldiers are coming out against the decision for another reason. They say Bergdahl put their lives at risk when he abandoned his duties, and don't think he receives a hero's welcome home.
Bergdahl was reportedly seized by the Taliban in 2009, after he left the camp where he was stationed, without authorization. Bergdahl had reportedly become disillusioned with the war effort and wanted out. He was almost immediately captured and held in Pakistan, which According to the Washington Post prompted a dangerous and deadly search:
At the time, an entire U.S. military division and thousands of Afghan soldiers and police officers devoted weeks to searching for him, and some soldiers resented risking their lives for someone they considered a deserter... One Afghan special operations commander in eastern Afghanistan remembers being dispatched. “Along with the American Special Forces, we set up checkpoints everywhere. For 14 days we were outside of our base trying to find him."
Former combat medic Javier Ortiz told the Post that he had also felt disillusioned with the war but would not have abandoned his fellow soldiers. “I had a responsibility while I was there to the guys I was with, and that’s why this hits the hardest," adding "regardless of what you learned while being there, we still have a responsibility to the men to our left and right. It’s terrible, what he did.” Some soldiers said they think Bergdahl should be tried for desertion or going absent without leave (AWOL), both serious military crimes. The U.S. government, however, doesn't intend on pursuing charges. One senior defense official told the Post, “Five years is enough."