PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has become a hot button issue since his release in exchange for five Taliban members this past weekend. Some members of Bergdahl’s platoon claim that he was captured only after leaving his post without permission and deserted.
Members of his platoon have said they are happy for him and his family that he is now safe, but think an investigation should take place to decide if he should be court-martialed or not.
Author of “Outlaw Platoon” and Afghanistan veteran Sean Parnell joined “The KDKA Morning News” with John Shumway to give his thoughts on the Bergdahl situation.
Parnell’s unit was in Afghanistan when Bergdahl disappeared. While he was not active at the time, due to an injury, Parnell says he was aware of the situation.
“For the first 24 to 48 hours, it was unclear as to whether or not he deserted or was captured. On day three it was pretty clear [to our platoon] having heard the stories from the soldiers on the ground that he had left his post with the intention of deserting his unit.”
When there is a search and rescue, according to Parnell, all air support for the soldiers is, “diverted in support of search operations for Bergdahl.”
“The troops in contact with the enemy all over the theater of Afghanistan did not have air support for their firefights and the soldiers that were positioned on the border, that were searching for Bergdahl, probably established a number of patterns looking for him.”
When a pattern is established Parnell says, “The enemy [can] exploit it and it can cause fatalities.”
Parnell says it is upsetting that soldiers are searching for someone that deliberately deserted his or her position and putting their lives on the line for that person.
“Our first priority is getting our American back. That’s a sacred trust that we in the brotherhood of warriors make with each other that we won’t leave [someone] behind on the battlefield,” Parnell said. “The reason that he left his post would have defiantly made people angry, but I know the soldiers out there wanted to get him back first and hold him accountable for his actions second.”
Parnell is happy that Bergdahl is back in American custody, but “the circumstances of his departure do matter and they are important.”
If it is found that Bergdahl deserted his unit, Parnell says it is a very serious offense.
“[Desertion] is second to only turning your own weapon on your [fellow soldiers]. It is a crime that is still on the books punishable by death,” says Parnell.