Category Archive 'Customs of War'

09 Aug 2009

How to Save PFC Bergdahl

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PFC Bowe R. Bergdahl

Breitbart quotes some news agency’s report indicating that a Taliban commander claims to be holding captured American PFC Bowe Bergdahl and is threatening the American prisoner and using him to make demands.

A militant commander who is holding a U.S. soldier abducted in Afghanistan said Sunday that Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s council is waiting for a response to its demands before deciding the American’s fate.

It was the first news of Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, made public since a Taliban video was released July 18.

Maulvi Sangin, an insurgent commander for eastern Afghanistan, said the Taliban’s governing body was awaiting a response to demands it made to the U.S. for his return.

“The American’s fate is in the hand of (leadership), which is waiting until a response from the Americans to its demands,” Sangin told The Associated Press.

The correct answer to murder or abuse by the enemy of soldiers who fall into their hands is as old as warfare itself. You simply have to do as Colonel John Singleton Mosby did during the American Civil War when George Armstrong Custer proceeded to hang seven of Mosby’s rangers.

A ragged line of Union soldiers stood in a field along Goose Creek in Rectortown, Virginia, on November 6, 1864. They jostled, chatted and joked with each other, pleased to be outdoors on a brisk autumn day. As prisoners of war these 27 Yankees had been confined to a brick store building in the village, waiting to be taken south to a Confederate prison camp. Little did they know that nearly a fourth of them were marked to settle a blood debt — minor characters in a major drama of reckoning between Lieutenant Colonel John Singleton Mosby and Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer.

A few minutes before noon their captors — members of the 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry, better known to history as Mosby’s Rangers — led the Federals from the store to a gentle slope above the creek. It was likely Ranger Sgt. Maj. Guy Broadwater who addressed the prisoners. Seven Rangers had been executed by the prisoners’ Union comrades, Broadwater informed the group, and an equal number of them would share a similar fate. The words stunned and silenced the Northerners. A hat with 27 slips of paper, he explained, would be passed along the line, and each man must draw one slip. Seven of the pieces had been marked, and if a Yankee drew one of them, he was to be executed. A Ranger handed the hat to the first soldier.

If this country’s leadership lacks the common sense and the intestinal fortitude to take the well-known, amply precedented steps, firmly established in the customs of war necessary to protect US military personnel unlucky enough to fall into the hands of the enemy, then, the pacifistic left is right, and we ought to try to make war no more.

It is simply wrong to ask American soldiers to expose themselves to capture, and then feel too bound by priggish postures of moral superiority to do what is necessary to protect them.


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