America’s Civilian in Chief exploited military’s sacred bond for sake of politics
That’s the military motto the administration used to justify trading Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders. As I look at the news that Bergdahl now faces desertion charges, I worry that this motto has been at best misunderstood by the Obama administration, and at worst twisted and exploited for the president’s political gain.
That mission proved to me that if I was ever captured by the enemy, other Americans would stop at nothing to find me. That mission also taught me that there is no higher calling in the military than to be asked to find and rescue a fellow American -- military or civilian -- captured or lost in war.
When all hope seems lost, you can rest assured: America will send its best-trained, and best-equipped forces anywhere in the world to bring you safely home. This is what I served for and what makes our country exceptional.
Beyond mere courage, it takes a keen sense of duty, honor and selfless commitment to be a member of the Armed Forces. These bedrock principles are ingrained in every new recruit in basic training and relied upon equally regardless of rank or service. Your safety is subordinate to your countrymen and your unit members. That is the essence of “leave no man behind.”
This administration is going down a dangerous road with its ignorance . . .And while our civilian leaders can comprehend these words, they have clearly shown they misunderstand them. Because to those of us who have worn our nation's uniform, they are much more than just words: They are a sacred bond.
Whoever advised President Obama to trade Bergdahl, an accused deserter, for five terrorists, never served in the military. It’s clear they turned that bond on its head to serve their political purposes. If they had served, they would have understood that hundreds of thousands of honorable service members maintained their posts -- despite fear, despite time away from family, despite the potential loss of life, and even despite disagreements one may privately harbor as to why they were there. American warfighters go into dangerous combat situations because we took an oath, to our country and those we fight with.
Bergdahl chose to break that oath, walk away from his post -- and that sacred bond -- in the middle of combat operations. Bowe Bergdahl chose cowardice and desertion over duty and honor.
We’ve had presidents with and without military experience, but I’ve never before witnessed an administration with such a blatant lack of regard or understanding for the honor and principles that have made the American military the world's most respected fighting force. Even absent military experience, I can think of no other president who would tolerate his national security adviser stating unchallenged that Bowe Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction” as Susan Rice did.
I also can’t think of any who would have approved a political photo op in the White House Rose Garden with Sgt. Bergdahl’s parents, and standing behind the honored principles of “no man left behind” to justify it.
If the president and his advisers truly understood the meaning of those words, they would have scrambled every asset in our military arsenal to at least attempt to save U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and embattled fighters in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in 2012. But they didn’t.
This administration is going down a dangerous road with its ignorance of or willingness to distort our proud military culture and traditions. If they continue to choose political gain over the military principles that our all-volunteer force honors, rather than “leave no man behind,” they may soon find they will have no one left to lead.
Jason Redman is a retired Navy SEAL, wounded warrior, author of “The Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy SEAL Leader” and a military adviser for "Concerned Veterans for America.”