Mixed Reactions from Military Community Following Bergdahl’s Release

U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Berghdal is pictured in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Army and received by Reuters on May 31, 2014. Bergdahl, who had been held for nearly five years by Afghan militants, was handed over to U.S. Special Operations forces in Afghanistan on May 31, 2014 in a dramatic swap for five Taliban detainees who will be handed over from Guantanamo Bay prison to Qatar. REUTERS/U.S. Army/Handout via Reuters (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Berghdal.
Reuters

US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl returned to US custody Saturday after being held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan for nearly five years.

Bergdahl, 28, who is from Idaho, was captured in eastern Afghanistan on June 30, 2009 and was considered the only known missing US soldier in the Afghan war.

During a statement in the White House Rose Garden Saturday, President Barack Obama suggested that Bergdahl’s case is part of the US’s “ironclad commitment” to bring home its prisoners of war. He was joined by Bergdahl’s parents, who expressed their gratitude for everyone involved in their son’s release.

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The so-called “non-violent exchange” with Taliban members was met with praise among many supporters of the release efforts.

Former Massachusetts senator and retired Army Colonel Scott Brown tweeted his support for Bergdahl’s safe return:

But not all members of the military community—both current and former servicemembers—are celebrating Bergdahl’s release.

According to the Army Times, the site’s Facebook page has received hundreds of comments—many from servicemembers—with mixed reactions to Bergdahl’s release.

A number of negative comments centered on the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s capture in 2009, which remain unclear. Some reports indicate that Bergdahl, who had only been in country for about three months, was frustrated and had willingly walked away from his unit.

“It disgusts me greatly that a man that turned his back on his brothers, unit, and country is going to be hailed as a hero/saint,” said Jay D Williams, whose Facebook profile identified him as a US soldier.

The US agreed to release five Taliban detainees at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl—a move that was also met with criticism by some.

However, some commentors on the Army Times Facebook page felt that regardless of the circumstances of his capture or release, the military fulfilled its duty not to leave any of its members behind.

“This guy may have made a tremendously bad decision, but I’m willing to bet that what he’s endured since then has been far worse than anything the US or military judicial system would have imposed,” said another commenter Mark Delano.

“We don’t leave anyone behind, regardless of the circumstances of why/how he was captured,” wrote Bradley Greaver, whose Facebook profile identifies him as a member of the US Air Force.