Troops Blast Taliban Prisoner Swap

Bowe Bergdahl
Bowe Bergdahl / AP

The release over the weekend of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was not well-received by soldiers and veterans who had served with him.

Bergdahl was released from five years of captivity in Afghanistan and transferred to a military hospital in Germany.

Some called Bergdahl a deserter and said his "selfish act" ended up costing the lives of better men, CNN reports.

Questions surround the circumstances of Bergdahl's disappearance. Conflicting details have since emerged about how the militants managed to capture Bergdahl. Published accounts have varied widely, from claims he walked off the post to another that he was grabbed from a latrine.

According to first-hand accounts from soldiers in his platoon, Bergdahl, while on guard duty, shed his weapons and walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera, and a diary.

At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl, and many soldiers in his platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika Province in the days and weeks following his disappearance.

A senior defense official told CNN that Bergdahl will not likely face any punishment.

One soldier told CNN that Bergdahl simply "walked off" and "left his guard post."

The Rolling Stone reported in 2012 that Bergdahl sent emails saying he did not support the U.S. effort in Afghanistan.

Another soldier, writing for the Daily Beast, had similar reports of desertion.

"The truth is: Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down," writes Nathan Bradley Bethea, who served in the same battalion in Afghanistan as Bergdahl.

Bergdahl failed to show up at morning roll call following a night of guard duty, according to Bethea.

Daily search missions followed Bergdahl’s disappearance.

Bethea writes that while Bergdahl deserves sympathy and humanity, he should not be hailed as a hero.

I believe that Bergdahl also deserves sympathy, but he has much to answer for, some of which is far more damning than simply having walked off. Many have suffered because of his actions: his fellow soldiers, their families, his family, the Afghan military, the unaffiliated Afghan civilians in Paktika, and none of this suffering was inevitable. None of it had to happen. Therefore, while I’m pleased that he’s safe, I believe there is an explanation due. Reprimanding him might yield horrible press for the Army, making our longest war even less popular than it is today. Retrieving him at least reminds soldiers that we will never abandon them to their fates, right or wrong. In light of the propaganda value, I do not expect the Department of Defense to punish Bergdahl.

Published under: Afghanistan , Military