I strongly disagree with Jared Silverman’s column “Saving Sgt. Bergdahl: A Clash of Values” (June 12), as well as the letter written by Warren Goldfein (June 19) commending the column.
Critics of the deal — like Messrs Silverman and Goldfein — are wrong to believe that negotiating for Sgt. Bergdahl sends a dangerous message to terrorists. They’re ignoring the message his abandonment would have sent to our troops, their families, and prospective military recruits. It would have betrayed our pledge that if you’re captured in service to our country, we’ll do everything possible to free you.
The Code of Conduct for members of the armed forces details every service member’s obligations to the military and the nation, even in captivity. In exchange, the Code promises:
“Just as you have a responsibility to your country under the Code of Conduct, the United States government has an equal responsibility — always to keep faith with you and stand by you as you fight for
your country. If you are unfortunate enough to become a prisoner of war, you may rest assured that your government will care for your dependents and will never forget you. Furthermore, the government will use every practical means to contact, support, and gain release for you and for all other prisoners of war.”
The army’s training pamphlet on being a POW repeats this commitment.
In light of that commitment, it’s unwise to focus, as many critics of the Bergdahl deal do, on the circumstances of his capture. The larger principle is that our allegiance to our soldiers has to be as solid as their allegiance to us. In the military, loyalty transcends personality. And loyalty goes both ways.
President Obama as Commander-in-Chief kept that bargain. I commend him for doing so and say thank you.