Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Mentioning his name guarantees a visceral response from people in the military and veteran communities, eliciting a “Fuck Bergdahl” retort or feelings of sympathy for what he endured during five years in captivity. One Army veteran of the Korengal Valley I spoke with recently said he had to stop listening to the Serial podcasts because Bergdahl’s voice caused him to grip the steering wheel so tightly out of anger that he risked driving off the road.
Events of the past several weeks indicate that the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State is at a turning point: The world is weighing potential responses to the terrorist acts in Paris, reportedly up to 50 special operators will deploy to assist Kurdish forces, and Secretary of State John Kerry visited Vienna to start a concerted effort toward a political resolution to the Syrian civil war. The Obama administration’s current airpower campaign and limited security assistance to Syrian rebels has come under criticism, with many asking what more should the United States do about ISIS in Syria? Before making any further decisions, and especially before sending ground forces into Syria, three conditions must be met and held.