Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The Unasked Question

In all of the discussion about the release of Bowe Bergdahl, one question has not been asked, and I’m rather wondering why it has not. Who were his superiors, and what were they doing before his presumed desertion?

When I was a petty officer, the Navy equivalent of sergeant, part of my responsibility was the well being of the men who served under my direction. If one of my men was having, for instance, wife problems or money problems, it was my responsibility to counsel him and to see to it that he received whatever help he needed to resolve those problems. If those problems were not noticed and dealt with then we would have had crew members functioning at less than maximum effectiveness.

By most accounts Bergdahl was having and expressing serious doubts about the mission, about his place and role in the military unit, for quite some time prior to leaving his post. In any case, there is no way that he was behaving normally and contributing fully to the unit’s mission and then suddenly deserted to the enemy. Something had to be showing in his behavior. Why did his sergeant and/or the officer directly responsible for him not notice and address that issue before it turned into a problem? Where was the leadership within that military unit?

Push come to shove, I would tell my superior that I wanted a guy shipped out, and perhaps that's what someone should have said regarding Bergdahl. Why was that never done?

“No man is an island.” That is particularly true in an organization such as the military, and yet this man’s supposed desertion is being discussed as if it happened in a vacuum and was not something for which the military itself bears any responsibility. The military says it will investigate the conditions under which Bergdahl was captured. I think that investigation should include all levels of the leadership in Bergdahl’s unit.


bruce said...

Does that also include his squad mates, of similar rank /MOS and any underlings, if he had any? I think it should, but the ultimate responsibility goes up, not sideways or down.

momlee said...

Amen, brother! (literally brother, btw). Having also been a petty officer in the Navy, I totally agree. When I was promoted to AC3, it was impressed on me that I was "on duty" and responsible 24/7, especially for those under my "command"

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