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Thread: US Soldier captured in Afghanistan

  1. #41
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Defector or POW?

    Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, a US soldier being held prisoner by the Taliban after disappearing from his base had told his parents he was disgusted with the Afghan war and ashamed to be American.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...-American.html
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  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    From the reports of him walking off base, and his subsequent statements, he's likely a defector.

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    Let's not be too quick to pass judgment, it was clear he was frustrated with the lack of discipline and what he perceived to poor discipline in his unit, so he may well have deserted, but it does not appear he defected. Both are crimes, but one is much more serious than the other.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics...0120607?page=5

    The next morning, more than 24 hours after Bowe had vanished, U.S. intelligence intercepted a conversation between two Taliban fighters:

    "I SWEAR THAT I HAVE NOT HEARD ANYTHING YET. WHAT HAPPENED. IS THAT TRUE THAT THEY CAPTURED AN AMERICAN GUY?"

    "YES THEY DID. HE IS ALIVE. THERE IS NO WHERE HE CAN GO (LOL)" "IS HE STILL ALIVE?"

    "YES HE IS ALIVE. BUT I DONT HAVE THE WHOLE STORY. DONT KNOW IF THEY WERE FIGHTING. ALL I KNOW IF THEY WERE FIGHTING. ALL I KNOW THAT THEY CAPTURE HIM ALIVE AND THEY ARE WITH HIM RIGHT NOW."

    Then another intercept was picked up:

    "CUT THE HEAD OFF"
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...m-taliban.html

    In exclusive interviews, Afghan insurgents reveal how Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, imprisoned by the Taliban in Pakistan since 2009, made a bold bid for freedomóbut was quickly recaptured.
    A lot more details in the article, and if accurate there was a serious failure in leadership in the unit. Most reports indicate SGT Bowe was very hard core and dedicated, so I suspect his expectations of his leaders and peers were unrealistic and when reality didn't fit his expectations he quit believing.

  4. #44
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A chance for release?

    BBC News has just reported that the Taliban have offered to swap five Guantanamo prisoners for the US soldier. All part of the diplomatic ploys under-way:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-22980892
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  5. #45
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Alive but in declining health

    NYT story:
    A video of an American soldier held captive by Afghan insurgents for the past four and a half years is in the possession of the United States government, and officials said Wednesday that it showed the soldier, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, alive but in declining health.
    Not much else, although he is alive somewhere.

    Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/16/wo..._20140116&_r=0
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  6. #46
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Taliban's only US PoW is exchanged

    America's only prisoner of war has been freed in Afghanistan after the US agreed to release five Taliban fighters held at Guantnamo Bay. President Barack Obama announced that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl had been released nearly five years after he was captured near the Pakistani border.



    (Later) The five released detainees - Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mohammed Nabi, Khairullah Khairkhwa and Abdul Haq Wasiq - were the most senior Afghan fighters held at Guantnamo Bay.

    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...-fighters.html
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  7. #47
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    The domestic blow-back is expected, but I'm interested in the political and ethical questions it raises about negotiating with 'the enemy' during an armed conflict, specifically when that enemy is not a recognized state belligerent and is a party to unlawful forms of warfare. It appears that (1) our legal norms can potentially obstruct the formulation of political solutions (in this case, a negotiation), and (2) that the circumstances of the soldier's capture is less important than the perceived gain in his exchange. Assuming that the exchange facilitates further dialogue with the aim of stabilizing the inevitable transition with the American withdrawal by the end of 2015, I think Bergdahl's conduct, while of great concern in itself, is irrelevant within the context of the conflict as a whole. Bottom line: does the exchange provide the US with a favorable political opening?

    On a related note - the act of negotiation itself does not incentivize further activity. The gains made by the process of negotiation can potentially incentivize repeated behavior. US soldiers are already valuable POWs so I fail to see how this exchange increases that risk, especially given the factors that have made the Iraq and Afghanistan wars so low in POWs in the first place. If anything, the exchange indicates that the Taliban is a rational organization capable of responding to incentives.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  8. #48
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    It is interesting as a non-American to observe this unfolding matter.

    My gut feeling is that Bergdahl is a side issue to the release of the 5 Taliban linked to the 'safe' withdrawal of ISAF men and equipment up to the end of the year.

    Interesting to observe the position of this administration in respect of the much vaunted policy of never negotiating with terrorists.

  9. #49
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    JMA,

    It's not so much a 'policy' as it is a 'mantra' and of course a domestic political weapon. But the US has negotiated with 'terroists' before (even sold them weapons in exchange for hostages!) so it's not without precedent. And it's it without precedent in Western policy - IRA, ETA, PLO, etc. Of course, the rhetoric makes the policy confusing (like the non-coup coup in Egypt).
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  10. #50
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    On a related note - the act of negotiation itself does not incentivize further activity. The gains made by the process of negotiation can potentially incentivize repeated behavior. US soldiers are already valuable POWs so I fail to see how this exchange increases that risk, especially given the factors that have made the Iraq and Afghanistan wars so low in POWs in the first place. If anything, the exchange indicates that the Taliban is a rational organization capable of responding to incentives.
    Concur. I haven't been able to get my head wrapped around how some could calculate that this in any way increases the risk to troops in the field.

    Then again, the folks bumping their gums about it likely have 0% time spent in the field in the first place. Mix that in with partisanship and the howls are predictable.

  11. #51
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    It seems to me it was just a poor deal, for 5 high guys we got back one, at best very confused, private; at worst one deserter/possible defector.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    http://www.armystudyguide.com/conten...-conduct.shtml




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    I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    It seems to me it was just a poor deal, for 5 high guys we got back one, at best very confused, private; at worst one deserter/possible defector.
    Looks like a poor deal, but maybe there is a silver lining too?

    Since this chap maybe a indoctrinated AQ sympathiser (or else why did he 'walk off'), and so, maybe during interrogation he will be a gold mine of information about the ways of the AQ/ Taliban.

  14. #54
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Ray,

    One of the things the U.S. Army is poor at doing IMO is understanding group dynamics, especially when someone does something seemingly irrational like walk off a FOB. And this is ironic, I think, given our emphasis on leadership, et. al. We have a serious problem of groupthink and we have an ideological predisposition to focus almost exclusively on individual agency to the exclusion of structural incentives and restraints. Apparently Bergdahl's comrades were aware of his odd behavior prior to the deployment - why didn't they or the leadership do something about it? I've also read that the unit had some problems of its own. Combine that with the isolation of being deployed, and then further ostracized within your own unit, and it's not surprising that he did something 'irrational'. He probably regretted it from the moment he was captured. That's just speculation on my part.
    Last edited by AmericanPride; 06-19-2014 at 04:26 PM.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    Ray,

    One of the things the U.S. Army is poor at doing IMO is understanding group dynamics, especially when someone does something seemingly irrational like walk off a FOB. And this is ironic, I think, given our emphasis on leadership, et. al. We have a serious problem of groupthink and we have an ideological predisposition to focus almost exclusively on individual agency to the exclusion of structural incentives and restraints. Apparently Bergdahl's comrades were aware of his odd behavior prior to the deployment - why didn't they or the leadership do something about it? I've also read that the unit had some problems of its own. Combine that with the isolation of being deployed, and then further ostracized within your own unit, and it's not surprising that he did something 'irrational'. He probably regretted it from the moment he was captured. That's just speculation on my part.
    The bold part reminds of the film 'A Few Good Men'.

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    Not sure why this thread has almost died in terms of the essential matter of how Bergdahl fell into the hands of the Taliban?

    Full Testimony of SPC. Cody Full

    I am much less interested in the swap than with the preliminaries.

  17. #57
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    I dunno... this is an exceptional case surely? Bergdahl is but one soldier out of how many hundred thousand soldiers who rotated through Afghanistan over the years.

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    Ray,

    One of the things the U.S. Army is poor at doing IMO is understanding group dynamics, especially when someone does something seemingly irrational like walk off a FOB. And this is ironic, I think, given our emphasis on leadership, et. al. We have a serious problem of groupthink and we have an ideological predisposition to focus almost exclusively on individual agency to the exclusion of structural incentives and restraints. Apparently Bergdahl's comrades were aware of his odd behavior prior to the deployment - why didn't they or the leadership do something about it? I've also read that the unit had some problems of its own. Combine that with the isolation of being deployed, and then further ostracized within your own unit, and it's not surprising that he did something 'irrational'. He probably regretted it from the moment he was captured. That's just speculation on my part.

  18. #58
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    I dunno... this is an exceptional case surely? Bergdahl is but one soldier out of how many hundred thousand soldiers who rotated through Afghanistan over the years.
    It's exceptional insofar he was captured by the Taliban. But he wasn't the only one to have ever walked off a FOB or attempted to do so. I don't know the full numbers but I count at least four between Iraq and Afghanstan. I think what's unexceptional is the stress, poor discipline, and 'breaking point' - most soldiers who reach this point seem to prefer to kill themselves or abuse a spouse rather than hike the Hindu Kush. One soldier notably stole thousands of digital documents. When someone is away from the security of home, ostracized by their comrades in close quarters, and disillusioned by their role in what's going on, unpredictable things happen.

    I'm in no way excusing Bergdahl's behavior but I firmly think that the causes are more complex than the competing media narratives of his alleged Taliban sympathies or his mental state.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    ...he wasn't the only one to have ever walked off a FOB or attempted to do so. I don't know the full numbers but I count at least four between Iraq and Afghanstan...One soldier notably stole thousands of digital documents. When someone is away from the security of home, ostracized by their comrades in close quarters, and disillusioned by their role in what's going on, unpredictable things happen.
    Are you referring to Bradley Manning?

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    Quote Originally Posted by WGEwald View Post
    Are you referring to Bradley Manning?
    Yes. He was reportedly an odd-ball in his own unit. His unit had lax security oversight. And according to his account, he was disillusioned with the war. In these conditions, unpredictable things happen. Why does one person steal documents in the hopes of exposing his perception of the truth, another walk of a FOB, another kill himself or kill others? Whatever outlet these individuals choose, many of the structural problems and enablers remain the same because they are frequently left unaddressed.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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