By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, June 3, 2014 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today he is encouraged by the embrace of the ethos of the U.S. military to never leave a comrade.
The recovery of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is controversial, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey acknowledged in an interview. The United States released five Taliban leaders from confinement at Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba, to Qatar in exchange for the young sergeant.
The Haqqani network held Bergdahl for almost five years. He is now at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany undergoing treatment.
There is disagreement about the circumstances of Bergdahl’s capture in June 2009, and that needs to be clarified, Dempsey said. If there is wrongdoing, he will be held accountable, and in the meantime, he is innocent until proven guilty, the chairman said.
But Dempsey said he is encouraged by the American military’s embrace of the ethos of never leaving a fallen comrade behind. “What I find encouraging is that’s the given in this conversation,” he added.
The questions that are being asked are about whether Bergdahl’s conduct should have justified the military living up to that ethos. But what is not heard, the chairman said, is whether this is the correct ethos to follow.
“I’m encouraged by the discussions our service men and women have,” he said. “Even our very youngest understand and appreciate that ethos.”