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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 1:11 pm | Fair 68º


Ron Fink: Bowe Bergdahl Case — Lt. Col. Mark Visger Should Resign

What has the U.S. Army come too?  

Recently Lt. Col. Mark Visger, a career officer in the Army, reviewed the case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (he was promoted while away from his unit and not a result of any demonstrated ability to either perform his duties or any leadership skills) who his team leader and members of his unit say left his post while deployed to a forward base in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009.

From the first day of military service recruits are taught that you must report for duty on time and remain on duty until properly relieved.  Deserting your post is a serious breach of military discipline and all members are made keenly aware of the requirements of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) during basic military training.

A deserter, as defined by the UCMJ, Article 85, is a person who “(1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently; or, (2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service.”

The punishment for such a crime is “(c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.”

The men and women who serve in the United States military are not in kindergarten; the work they do is serious business and their leaders need to remain confident that they will perform their duties when called upon.

Military tradition dictates that you can always rely on your buddy to have your back under all conditions. Deserting your post isn’t an option.

Suppose that the center of a football team or the shortstop on a baseball team suddenly decided in the middle of the game to walk off the field. In all likelihood the team would lose the game.

But combat isn’t a sport, it’s serious business and that’s why the UCMJ specifies severe punishment for desertion.

All of this drama began last May when President Barak Obama made a choice — he would release five very high-level prisoners from detention at Guantanamo Bay Marine Base in Cuba if the Taliban would release our deserter.

Following the release, surrounded by Bergdahl’s parents, team Obama made a spectacle of the event with a statement fit for a returning hero in the Whitehouse Rose Garden.

Was this a part of Obama’s commitment to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center? If he were able to release the most serious of the detainees, then he could argue that all the others were just petty crooks.

These folks weren’t there because they parked their car in the wrong place; these guys were directly responsible for killing hundreds of our young people and thousands of their own citizens.

In other words, these were very high value prisoners who were being exchanged for a cowardly misfit who couldn’t fulfill the oath he took when he volunteered to serve.

Now it’s been reported that some of them have returned to the fight to kill more American’s.  This is known as “aiding and abetting the enemy” and President Obama is guilty.

The liberal media has been promoting the idea that Bergdahl had “suffered enough” while in captivity — certainly he wasn’t treated kindly by his captors, but if he had not deserted his unit and sought out the enemy he wouldn’t have subjected himself to the conditions he endured.

The liberal media theory in this case is that he ought to be honorably discharged from the army, provided all of his back pay and receive all of the benefits provided to members who have honorably served.

Apparently Lt. Col. Mark Visger agrees with them, because that’s exactly what he has recommended. According to a report on an online publication, “Visger recommended that there be no prison time or punitive discharge against Bergdahl.

In light of Visger's recommendations, the defense is asking that the case be disposed of non-judicially, rather than by any court martial.”

The men and women of the armed forces spent months looking for Bergdahl. Ten (six American’s and four British soldiers) were killed and many wounded on missions that were designed to find the missing man.

Members of his unit spoke of a dramatic increase in the tempo of operations immediately following his disappearance; I can only imagine what it was like on those long and dangerous patrols.

Gen. Robert Abrams has the final say concerning whether Bergdahl faces a general court martial or is handed the lighter punishment. Hopefully Abrams doesn’t cave to political pressure.

As for Lt. Col. Mark Visger, he has disgraced himself and should resign his commission because he has clearly demonstrated that by ignoring the basic tenants of command, that he is unfit to serve as an officer in the Army.

Recommendation: http://apnews.myway.com/article/20151010/us--bergdahl-8948e71930.html

Soldier deaths: http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/08/us/bergdahl-search-soldiers/

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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