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We Live By A Strict Code Of Military Ethos And Values — How Does The Bergdahl Deal Square With That?
I was in my small fire base’s tactical operations center on June 16, 2006 when two soldiers were captured from an outpost in southern Baghdad. The normal chatter of grids for improvised explosive devices and small arms fire on the movement tracking system quickly turned into an abnormal message: All convoys and patrols on the road needed to immediately stop and set up checkpoints and search every single vehicle because two soldiers had been captured. Over 8,000 Iraqi and American troops and a plethora of aircraft joined the search, resulting in 12 wounded troops and one death. The mutilated bodies of the two soldiers were found three days later, rigged with so many IEDs that it took the explosive ordnance disposal team 12 hours to reach them.
Every soldier who serves knows the consequences if they fall into enemy hands. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has always had a policy of not negotiating with terrorists. Everyone who served knows that. Your options are try and escape, hope you are rescued, or pray for a quick death.
Although the concrete details surrounding Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance were unknown publicly for the last five years, the recent swap that released him from Taliban control has brought new information to the forefront. Soldiers who served with him have come forward to say that his desertion was premeditated. A 2010 Defense report shows the Pentagon knew he deserted and was not captured on patrol or kidnapped from their combat outpost. Reports also show that Special Forces not only knew where he was being held on various occasions, but knew exactly how many were guarding him. Military leadership chose not to go after him because they did not want to expend additional lives on a deserter.
We live by a strict code of military ethos and values. At the top of the list is “leave no man behind.” But what happens when that man chooses to be left behind and deserts his post? What happens when the man needlessly puts the lives of his fellow soldiers at risk? At least six troops died in the wake of Bergdahl’s premeditated disappearance, and a number of others due to the reallocation of resources. We all take a vow that we will never leave a man behind. But what happens if the individual wants to be left behind and endangers the lives of his fellow soldiers in the process? At what point do we cut our losses? Is it a question of lives lost? Is it a question of resources expended or reallocated from our main objective? Or do we not cut our losses and continue to sacrifice men and equipment at whatever cost? Does our military ethos have limitations, or is it an open ended contract, regardless of the circumstances? These are all questions that the military community needs to ask throughout the Bergdahl debacle.
But personally, my first question for Bergdahl would be “what is your first General Order?”
J.R. Salzman is a wounded warrior who served with the Army National Guard as an infantryman in Iraq. He works as a freelance writer covering military and law enforcement. Follow him on Twitter.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
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Trump: $6.1 billion in DoD money going to border wall wasn’t for anything that seemed ‘too important to me’
President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."
Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."
D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.
"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."