The efforts to vilify freed prisoner of war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have centered around claims that six soldiers were killed while searching for him, after his capture by the Taliban.
The claims weren’t built on much, it turns out, and while the military’s notorious secrecy has made it impossible to totally refute the allegations, they seem to be based entirely around the idea that all soldiers in his battalion have considered searching for him part of every single operation since his capture, and that therefore every death in the battalion since was on him.
Former Staff Sgt. Justin Gerleve is advancing that idea, insisting that it was conceivable that if Bergdahl hadn’t been captured the six soldiers who died might well have been deployed to different places where they theoretically might not have been killed, even if Bergdahl’s rescue wasn’t the specific reason for any of the deployments.
US officials say that there’s no real evidence to support any of the deaths being directly attributable Bergdahl’s capture, and the efforts to blame him seem to have been a combination of political efforts to criticize the deal to recover him, and soldiers attempting to come to terms with deaths during the ongoing Afghan occupation.
Former Centcom Commander Gen. James Mattis also addressed Bergdahl’s recovery today on operational grounds, saying it would be a great boon for the military leadership, freeing them to act against Taliban fighters without fear of killing an American POW.
That appears to have been a non-trivial risk, as the Taliban reported that Bergdahl was several times near the location of US drone attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and could easily have been killed in the strikes.