The Defense Logistics Agency is committed to providing American troops around the world with a traditional Thanksgiving meal and this year is no exception.
In Afghanistan, there are 10,277 active duty troops serving, according to Defense Department statistics. In Afghanistan, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq there are nearly 12,000 troops deployed. These numbers don’t include other countries or the service members at sea.
Understandably, getting ready to deliver that many Thanksgiving feasts takes time and skill.
There are, according to DLA, 34,760 pounds of turkey, 21,450 pounds of ham and 32,550 pounds of beef to be prepared! Not to mention the 28,980 pounds of shrimp, 9,114 pounds of stuffing mix and 879 gallons of eggnog.
That is a lot of food to prepare and it takes expertise to get it organized.
Organizing the food support for troops in Afghanistan is Army Warrant Officer Raul Lewis. Lewis stated, “It is an honor to serve my country. But it is an even greater honor to serve my fellow service members an outstanding meal. There is nothing more comforting when you are far away from home and missing your loved ones than to sit in front of a hot meal and share a few laughs and moments of joy.”
Another member of the DLA family is Anthony Amendolia who stated, that in order for our troops to get a little taste of home it takes a lot of planning in order to insure everything is delivered in time. “Thanksgiving is so important to us, and such a priority, that we have to start in the April, May timeframe. It is a long process but we think service members really enjoy having a great Thanksgiving meal with their troops.”
If you are a soldier with a meal card, there is no charge for this feast. Soldiers with an E-5 and below, and their families, pay $6.80 per person. Enlisted E-5 and below, and their families, along with officers, pay $9.05 per person.
There will be all the fixings for our troops from collard greens, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes to cheesecake for desert.
Thanks to the Defense Logistics Agency, our troops around the world will be enjoying a warm Thanksgiving meal and while it will not in the least compare with being home for the holidays it will at least give them a warmth in their hearts and a small taste of home.
We thank each and every one of our brave heroes who put their lives on the line every day, though ‘Thank you’ will never be enough!
Stewart Perry, a former Marine, along with his wife and daughter, were on an American Airlines flight last Monday to pick up the remains of their son, a soldier who was recently killed in Afghanistan. Their solemn flight took an even more grievous turn, however, when passengers allegedly booed the family while on the flight.
According to Associated Press, the family “were on an American Airlines flight Monday from Sacramento to Philadelphia with a transfer in Phoenix to receive the remains of his son, Sgt. John Perry, of Stockton, when the flight was delayed…The flight to Phoenix was 45 minutes late and the crew, fearing the Gold Star family could miss their connecting flight, made an announcement for passengers to remain seated to let a “special military family” deplane first.”
First class passengers reportedly complained and booed saying that letting the Gold Star family deplane first was ‘baloney’ considering what they had paid for their first-class seats.
Perry stated that he was unaware if those sitting in coach had complained or booed or if any of them knew there was a Gold Star family on the plane.
The 30-year-old Army soldier died on November 12 at Bagram Airfield from injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device, an attack by a suicide bomber. Perry was one of two killed that day. He was honored in Lodi and will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Perry said of his son, “He made a decision that saved a lot of people. I was told that he was found protecting a female soldier… He didn’t get to live a full life, but he lived.”
“It was just disgusting behavior from people in first class; it was terrible to see.”
Perry leaves behind a wife and two young children.
He died a hero, his father said.
Sgt. John W. Perry, left, who died recently in Afghanistan, and his father, Stewart Perry,
on the right. (DoD photo via AP)
In Iraq and Afghanistan burn pits are a way to dispose of military waste.
According to a July 13 memo by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, exposure to burn pits do not pose any long-term health issues. However, military and civilian contractors have a very different view of the pits and refer to them as ‘the new Agent Orange,’ as thousands fall severely ill or die after exposure to the pits.
Since 2001 hundreds of these huge pits have been used to burn solid waste products. This, however, left those working the pits and those living nearby completely exposed to the toxic smoke.
With the growing concern and health issues, in 2009 The Department of Defense decided to limit when the pits could be used.
“DOD regulations require an incinerator to be used at any base where there are more than 100 personnel and base commanders to come up with contingency plans for the disposal of solid waste, noting burn pits should be a short-term solution only,” reports Stars and Stripes.
Though the spokesman for Operation Resolute Support, Col. Michael Lawhorn, stated at that time that “there are no burn pits operated at any U.S. base in Afghanistan,” we know that was not exactly true because DOD officials clearly stated that there were pits still being used in a limited capacity in Iraq and Afghanistan.
By 2015 the burn pits were back in full action. So what does this noxious smoke cause and what is being done to help the victims?
The burn pits cause symptoms that include respiratory problems, cancer and blood disorders and the victims of this toxic exposure say they are being completely disregarded.
Unlike the military who can go to the VA, no matter how inefficient some might be, the civilian has nowhere to turn.
A veteran who served in the 1980’s, 52-year-old Bobby Elesky, turned private contractor during the war in Afghanistan, wants to know, “Who’s responsible for us? Who’s going to start taking care of us?”
“We were all rounded up as vets from the [Department of Defense] because we were the best soldiers,” he said. “They asked us if we wanted to go, and shipped us to Afghanistan,” reports Fox News.
“There were times when the air quality was so bad that you would just drop to your knees and throw up,” he said. “We made jokes at the time because we had no idea how serious it was.’
“I’m a vet, but I’m not, according to them,” he said. “Because I was there as a contractor, I wasn’t allowed to sign up for the registry, which is b.s. to me. They already have all the data they need.”
There are almost 64,000 names on the ‘Burn Pit Registry.’ According to author Joseph Hickman, who wrote “The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers,” in 2016, it could take up to 30 years for the victims to get the help they need. A little too late don’t you think?
A letter was sent to President Obama, via the advocacy group Burn Pits 360, from 700 veterans imploring the administration to address the very real health issues and anguish caused by exposure to the burn pits.
In Veteran Affair fashion, they stated that there is simply not enough proof to support the health claims that the burn pits permanently affect those who are exposed.
Meanwhile, veterans and civilians alike are becoming gravely ill. The New Agent Orange claims more victims every day and every day more and more veterans and civilians are exposed to the burn pits.
Photos of American military equipment, identification cards and weapons appear to have been seized by ISIS militants in Afghanistan, though how they attained these items remains unclear.
Saturday, photos were released on social media after recent combat engagements which depict not only images of ammunition, a rocket launcher and communication equipment but a close up shot of U.S. Army Specialist Ryan Jay Larson’s ID as well.
“Obviously, SPC Larson is not captured – he is accounted for and with his unit despite having lost his ID card and possibly some of his equipment during recent operations,” Brigadier General Charlie Cleveland told Fox News. “Beyond that, there is a lot of equipment in those pictures.
“At this point, we don’t know if all of the equipment in the pictures was lost during recent operations or at some other time in the past.”
Defense Department spokesperson, Henrietta Levin, stated that they have no idea when the photos were taken or how they came into the equipment but assured Americans that no military personnel have been captured, according to Military Times.
“We are aware of erroneous reports that U.S. Army Specialist Ryan Jay Larson was captured by ISIL in Afghanistan,” Levin said, referring to one the Islamic State group’s other monikers. “These reports are false. He has been accounted for and remains in a duty status within his unit. We are looking into how he lost possession of his ID but can confirm he has been accounted for with his unit. ”
Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirmed that was the same location were almost 150 “heroic” Army Rangers were in heavy combat and took out “hundreds” of ISIS fighters.
Some of the equipment may have been left behind during this operation. Cleveland stated, however, that the lost equipment was not due to a “hasty” extraction.
How the items were left behind or lost is still being worked out by officials.
It has been four years since the shooting down of a United States helicopter that killed members of Seal Team 6 in Afghanistan and a watchdog group is charging the Obama administration with not turning over documents of the incident.
The Seal Team 6 helicopter was shot down on August 6, 2011 and the judge-ordered documents have yet to be handed over by Obama.
What really happened, American’s may be wondering? Why wouldn’t the Obama Administration happily comply with the judge’s orders, turn over the documents and put to ease and rest the many families who have suffered no knowing the answers they deserve?
According toRedFlag, the families of the Seal Team 6 may have died because of an inside job.
The investigative file made available to The Washington Times shows that the helicopter’s landing zone was not properly vetted for threats nor protected by gunships, while commanders criticized the mission as too rushed and the conventional Chinook chopper as ill-suited for a dangerous troop infiltration.
Larry Klayman, who runs the nonprofit watchdog group Freedom Watch, has filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Pentagon, as well as the Air Force, Army and Navy. He wants a judge to order the military to turn over an array of documents under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. He said the Defense Department stonewalled his written requests, so Freedom Watch went to court last month and succeeded in forcing the government to turn over records.
For the first time, Mr. Klayman allowed The Washington Times to view the military’s investigative files turned over to family members two years ago.
“The families of our fallen heroes, who I am proud to represent, need closure to this tragedy,” Mr. Klayman said. “There are many unanswered questions and the military’s explanations of the causes of the crash do not add up.”
He said families also want changes to the military’s restrictive rules of engagement that made it more difficult for U.S. helicopter pilots to fire back at the Taliban fighters they believed brought down the Chinook.
“The families also want our military’s rules of engagement to be changed, as a testament to and in honor of their dead sons,” Mr. Klayman said. “When our nation enters into battle, it must be to win the battle, not the ‘hearts and minds’ of the Islamic jihadist enemy and the Muslim civilian population it uses as human shields.”
He also wants to know the identities of Afghan soldiers onboard, and why the aircraft’s black box, washed away in a fierce rainstorm, was never found — even though it has a homing device.
“We want to make sure our fallen heroes are respected and that answers are provided,” he said.
About a possible insider betrayal, he says: “We’re not saying that happened, but it needs to be explored because increasingly Americans are being killed at the hands of Afghans.”
The Families are not alone in their thoughts. In fact, Many American’s believe the Team had been set up…
Watch: SEAL Team 6 Was Murdered
There were 30 U.S. Soldiers on board the CH-47 Chinook helicopter and one American K-9 soldier. In just one day, America endured the greatest single life loss since the war began in 2001.
“Fifteen Navy Seals from Naval Special Warfare Development Group’s Gold Squadron and five U.S. Naval Special Warfare support personnel based in Virginia Beach were Among the Victims,” reportsNewsChannel 3.
The following sailors assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit were killed:
Lieutenant Commander (SEAL) Jonas B. Kelsall, 32, of Shreveport, Louisiana
Special Warfare Operator Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Louis J. Langlais, 44, of Santa Barbara, California
Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Thomas A. Ratzlaff, 34, of Green Forest, Arkansas
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Kraig M. Vickers 36, of Kokomo, Hawaii,
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Brian R. Bill, 31, of Stamford, Connecticut
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) John W. Faas, 31, of Minneapolis, Minnesota
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Kevin A. Houston, 35, of West Hyannisport, Massachusetts
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason, 37, of Kansas City, Missouri
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Stephen M. Mills, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas,
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist/Diver) Nicholas H. Null, 30, of Washington, West Virginia
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Robert J. Reeves, 32, of Shreveport, Louisiana
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Heath M. Robinson, 34, of Detroit, Michigan
Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Darrik C. Benson, 28, of Angwin, California
Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Parachutist) Christopher G. Campbell, 36, of Jacksonville, North Carolina
Information Systems Technician Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Jared W. Day, 28, of Taylorsville, Utah,
Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) John Douangdara, 26, of South Sioux City, Nebraska
Cryptologist Technician (Collection) Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) Michael J. Strange, 25, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist) Jon T. Tumilson, 35, of Rockford, Iowa,
Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn, 30, of Stuart, Florida, and
Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jason R. Workman, 32, of Blanding, Utah.
The following sailors assigned to a West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit were killed:
Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jesse D. Pittman, 27, of Ukiah, California, and
Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class (SEAL) Nicholas P. Spehar, 24, of Saint Paul, Minnesota
The soldiers killed were:
Chief Warrant Officer David R. Carter, 47, of Centennial, Colo. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Aurora, Colorado
Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Nichols, 31, of Hays, Kan. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kansas
Staff Sgt. Patrick D. Hamburger, 30, of Lincoln, Neb. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Grand Island, Nebraska * Sergeant Hamburger was posthumously promoted to Staff Sergeant.
Sgt. Alexander J. Bennett, 24, of Tacoma, Wash. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kansas; and
Spc. Spencer C. Duncan, 21, of Olathe, Kan. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kansas
The airmen killed were:
Tech. Sgt. John W. Brown, 33, of Tallahassee, Florida
Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, California; and
Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe, 28, of York, Pennsylvania
We stand and Salute every single one of you and thank you for your sacrifices though it simply will never be enough…. God hold and protect you and your families.
Former Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, marked as being the man, among many, who committed the worst atrocities during the Afghanistan War, is asking for mercy.
In 2012 Bales lost all compassion for Afghans and Iraqis. In fact, over the course of his four deployments, he hardly saw then as human anymore. It was then that the murders of 16 Afghan villagers began.
Bales, in a letter written to the senior Army Officer at JBLM, stated that “My mind was consumed by war. I Planted war and hate for the better part of 10 years and harvested violence. After being in prison two years, I understood that what I thought was normal was the farthest thing from being normal.”
According toThe News Tribune, “Bales was sentenced in August 2013 to life in prison for the killings of 16 Afghan civilians, including seven children…”
Bales, however, is not alone on the war atrocities billboard. Take 21 year-old Cpl. Jeremy Morlock, and 19 year-old Pfc. Andrew Holmes, for example. Morlock and Holmes were among the soldiers of Bravo Company, a team who had talked at length about the idea of murdering an Afghan civilian. Now, some of the soldiers were not to keen on the idea while others were enthusiastic and all for it. It wasn’t long until “they agreed to stop talking and actually pull the trigger,” according to an account of the incident inRolling Stone.
It was January 15, 2010 when the company’s 3rd Platoon set out to start the killings. That morning they came across an isolated farming community that was surrounded by poppy fields. The spot was just what they were looking for. Two of the soldiers wondered off looking for someone to kill while the rest of the platoon talked to a village elder. “The general consensus was, if we are going to do something that…crazy, no one wanted anybody around to witness it,” one of the soldiers stated to Army investigators.
The young boy of about 15, who smiled and complied when he had been asked to halt, was violently gunned down without so much as even a shovel in his hand. The boy’s name was Gul Mudin.
In a shooting spree over the following four months, the platoon murdered at least three more civilians. The killings were portrayed as “a front-line culture among U.S. Troops in which killing Afghan civilians is less a reason for concern than a cause for celebration,” according to Rolling Stone.
“Most people within the unit disliked the Afghan people, whether it was the Afghan National Police, the Afghan National Army or Local’s…Everyone would say they’re savages,” explained a soldier.
Morlock was sentenced to 24 years in prison while Holmes received 7 years in jail.
Seemingly, Bales was not alone in his distaste for the Afghan people nor was he alone in stepping over the edge of reason as he shot his 22 victims, including 17 women and children in March 2012.
According to theHuffington Post, “Bales pleaded guilty in a deal to avoid the death penalty, and he apologized in a statement at his sentencing in 2013. He described the perpetual rage he felt, his heavy drinking and reliance on sleeping pills, and his steroid use. He also said he couldn’t explain what he did, a sentiment he repeated in the letter.”
“I became callous to them even being human; they were all enemy. Guilt and fear are with you day and night. Over time your experiences solidify your prejudice.”
Every human is said to have their breaking point and a soldier is no exception. Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an army psychiatrist who gunned down dozens of soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas had worried about braking points well before he hit his own. He talked about “how much fear and tedium soldiers [undergo]; how long they can slog through deserts over mountains; how much blood they can see; how many comrades they can lose.”
Even Hasan, a man who set out to comfort the soldier’s ‘psychic wounds and keep them fighting’ managed to step over the edge.
War is hell. War changes people. Bale, Morlock, and Holmes are but a few examples of the war atrocity billboards.
There was another time in recent American history when the United States went through the same level of non respect and that was during the presidency of Jimmy Carter and you remember what happened then when Iran held captive American hostages for 444 days. They were finally released during President Reagan’s inauguration as a final insult to Carter whom Iran had no respect for whatsoever. Iran sure does not respect Obama as even as they are trying to put together a nuclear bomb deal with the United States they continue too say “death to America,” they are laughing at Obama.
Reagan turned America around with leadership of the likes of not having been seen in our life times. He had America inspired back to the tune of love of country even among the young. This is what Reagan said early in his presidency, “We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.” I guess Obama didn’t read that part of Reagan’s presidency.
Obama has made bad decisions of major consequences that our enemies have picked up on and are now acting accordingly. No matter what one might have thought of President Bush going into Iraq the point in being is that when Obama took over the presidency Iraq was stabilized and holding their own with only a U.S. contingency force there needed to safeguard the victory. What does Obama do with no consideration for the saving of Iraq, the sacrifices from our military and the will of the American people he pulls out all remaining American troops that enabled the radical terrorist group called (ISIS) to take over, that even Al Qaeda wants nothing to do with them. So! “is the world watching?” If this is what Obama calls gaining respect throughout the world with other nations he is more delusional than one might think.
Obama not only has left Iraq on their own but he is about to do the same in Afghanistan. If you recall Obama use to call Afghanistan the good war during his first presidential campaign as though there is such a thing as a good war. This is unheard of in American history that an American president is actually in retreat without protecting the countries that we were victorious with to protect them from attack until they are able to get on their feet. I am confident to say that if Obama was president during World War II we would be speaking German today. So! “is the world watching?” Yes they are and behind the scenes they are wishing once again for American leadership that Obama because of his philosophy of Global Equilibrium feels our leadership in the world is not warranted and to say it even better, Obama does not want the United States to have a leadership role in the world. This, future historians will judge as a big mistake and has caused lack of respect for the United States of America of which it’s consequences still need to be played out. So when Obama says “he has restored respect to the United States,” it’s only in his own delusional mind.
Remember when we were informed in 2013 that America was giving literal bags full of cash to the office of then-Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai? It really shouldn’t be a surprise at this point that billions of dollars of Pentagon spending within Afghanistan prior to 2010 is unaccounted for. …
Now comes the news that we don’t even really know for certain what the Pentagon has done with $45 billion of $66 billion spent in Afghanistan prior to 2010. Why? Because until then the Pentagon was not required to account for it. The bureaucratic details that led to these circumstances is fleshed out here.
Of course, that “full audit of the Pentagon” part is going to be tricky to achieve. In fact, the audit which discovered the missing $45 billion can’t say much more than that because the Pentagon has not provided the information.
Comment by Jim Campbell, Citizen Journalist, Oath Keeper and Patriot.
In the foggy recesses of the liberal mind, which is it? Did he serve with distinction and honor? Or was Chris Kyle, the American Sniper a coward?
Perhaps the second most reprehensible thing that resulted from Obama’s proven inability, as a charter member of the “Gang who couldn’t shoot straight club,” was that tax payers payed $5 million dollars for the release of these murderers.
Of course the first would be the six U.S. Army Soldiers who died looking for Bergdahl.
A United States Marine did something that the phalanxes of America’s military officers are too timid to do.
This is the sign he held up before passing motorists about what his supposed commander in chief did (source):
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl deserted his post in Afghanistan and was held captive by the Taliban from June 2009 until May 31, 2014 when the Obama administration negotiated his release as part of a prisoner exchange for five high-level Taliban members who were being held at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
On June 25, 2014, the U.S. Army stated that there is “no evidence” that Bergdahl had “engaged in any misconduct” during his years in captivity.
Nine months later, on March 25, 2015, the Army announced that Bergdahl had been charged with two counts under the Uniform Code of Military Justice: one count of “desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty” and one count of “misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place.”
Here’s a reminder of what Obama gave up and what America sacrificed in exchange for this deserter.
1. Five High-Level Taliban Terrorists
2. Six U.S. Army Soldiers who died looking for Bergdahl
Staff Sergeant Clayton Bowen, 29, of San Antonio, Texas, and Private 1st Class Morris Walker, 23, of Chapel Hill, N.C., were killed by a roadside bomb in Paktika province on Aug. 18, 2009, while trying to find Bergdahl.
Like Bergdahl, they were part of the 4th BCT from Fort Richardson, Alaska.
Staff Sergeant Kurt Curtiss, 27, of Murray, Utah, died Aug. 26 in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when he was shot while his unit was supporting Afghan security forces during an enemy attack. Like Bergdahl, Bowen and Walker, he was part of the 4th BCT.
2nd Lieutenant Darryn Andrews, 34, of Dallas, Texas, died Sept. 4 in Paktika Province when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device and a rocket-propelled grenade. Like Bergdahl, Bowen, Walker and Curtiss, Andrews was part of the 4th BCT.
Staff Sergeant Michael Murphrey, 25, of Snyder, Texas, died Sept. 6 in Paktika province after being wounded by an IED. Like Bergdahl, Bowen, Walker, Curtiss and Andrews, Murphrey was part of the 4th BCT.
3. Tax payers paid $5 million in ransom to the Taliban
Gateway Pundit reports, Dec. 22, 2014, that Lt. Colonel Shaffer told Bill O’Reilly that the Obama administration paid $5 billion and released five top Taliban Gitmo detainees in exchange for deserter Bowe Bergdahl.
Disclaimer: This article was not written by Lorra B.
On June 30, 2009, a young solider, Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, decided that the Army life just wasn’t for him and after writing several missives to spell out his disdain for his current circumstance at his post in Afghanistan and mailing off his kit to family and friends, he decided to go on an unaccompanied (and unauthorized) “walk-about” in Afghanistan. This was generally regarded by all as a “bad career move.”
The young private was swiftly captured and made a prisoner of war by the Taliban. He was moved to Pakistan for safe keeping as a guest of the Haqqani terror network (as so designated by the U.S. government on September 6, 2012). This transfer to Pakistan placed Bergdahl out of touch from U.S. forces due to the artificial U.S. limitation to not pursue terrorists across the Durand Line from Afghanistan into Pakistan.
Bergdahl, sadly, is simply a pawn in a much larger game of badly played chess.
Significant resources in manpower and surveillance technology was utilized to try to find and return Bergdahl. This action diminished the U.S. military’s operational capability to attack the Taliban in other parts of Afghanistan. It also resulted in the loss of life, at the hands of the Taliban, of his fellow soldiers who were sent out to find him.
Over his years of captivity the Army saw fit to promote Bergdahl not once but twice – first to E-4/Specialist and then to his current rank of E-5/Sergeant.
Years later President Obama, with other options on the table, decided in December 2013, that the best political option was to trade five senior Taliban detainees (two of which were material supporters of Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks) for the return of Sgt Bergdahl.
I was briefed in December 2013 that a decision had been made to make a “trade” over other options and the trade was confirmed to me by senior leadership in the Defense Department.
Again – this was a political option – not an operational one. There were at least three other viable operational options for the live return of Bergdahl that did not include the return of the five Taliban leaders. Those options were ignored by President Obama.
The five Taliban leaders were traded for the release of Sgt Bergdahl on May 31, 2014. The five Taliban were sent to reside in Qatar, in luxury conditions, for one year. After one year they would be allowed to go about their business as they saw fit.
These five Taliban leaders will soon, in May 2015, be allowed to return to Afghanistan to what will no doubt be a “rock star” welcome, and resume their efforts to both fight U.S. forces still in the country and work to destabilize the central Afghan government. (A government that, according to the White House, is what we’ve invested 13 years of blood and treasure to establish and protect.)
By the way, we will have no ability to track or monitor these five “enemy combatants” once they arrive in Afghanistan and who will no doubt resume their effort to kill American and Afghan government forces immediately.
Does this sound like a national security policy conflict? You betcha! Why? Because And the political objectives, in the eyes of this White House, trump all other policies – even if it means damage to our national security interests.
The reason that the option to swap Bergdahl for the five Taliban senior leaders was so appealing is because President Obama wants to close the military prison at Guantanamo, period. No matter the real world harm such a move will cause to our allies and to the operations of our military forces. This political narrative, above all else, has drove the horrid and dangerous decision to release the five Taliban leaders.
Further – legally, the president violated the law in authorizing the trade of the so-called Taliban Five for Bergdahl.
Under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2014, the president is required to provide Congress with 30 days notice of any release of detainees from Guantanamo; no such notification was made. There was no justification for the president to have violated this law. To date, Congress has failed to hold the president accountable for his actions.
Bergdahl, sadly, is simply a pawn in a much larger game of badly played chess. He was inappropriately praised by the president in the May 31, 2014 Rose Garden press conference marking his return (a blatant attempt to influence the Army chain of command regarding the disposition of Bergdahl’s desertion from his post in combat) and by NSC Advisor Susan Rice who called him a “hero” in a lame attempt to build up Bergdahl to justify his importance in the trade.
Two investigations, one conducted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) in 2009 and a second AR 15-6 conducted in 2014 by Maj. Gen Kenneth Dahl, have reached the factual conclusion that Bergdahl violated punitive article 85 – desertion, of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).