An overwhelming majority of U.S. troops said President Obama's exchange of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders broke America's long standing policy of not negotiating with terrorists, according to a new survey by Military.com.
Responses from more than 5,600 service members, their spouses, veterans and retirees signaled a concern over the circumstances of Bergdahl's capture and the manner in which the White House executed his recovery.
Nine out of ten troops said they disagreed with Obama's decision not to notify Congress ahead of Bergdahl's recovery even though the president said Bergdahl would have been killed if news of the recovery was leaked ahead of the exchange.
“You always heard that we don't negotiate with terrorists, but here we have five battle hardened commanders released. On top of that, constitutionally you are supposed to notify Congress 30 days ahead and that didn't happen. I have a problem with that,” said Master Sgt. Dennis Mills, an Air National Guardsman.
Congressional committees have hosted hearings on the release and Republican lawmakers have expressed their frustration with the Obama administration's decision not to notify key members of Congress.
"This transfer is a clear violation of section 1035 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014. There is no compelling reason why the Department could not provide a notification to Congress 30 days before the transfer, especially when it has complied with the notification requirement for all previous GTMO detainee transfers since enactment of the law," said Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Ca., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in a statement.
Bergdahl returned to the U.S. on June 13 and has continued his recovery and re-integration into the Army at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam House, Texas. He was recovered from the Taliban following five years of imprisonment after President Obama exchanged five Taliban leaders for Bergdahl's freedom.
The Army has launched an investigation into the capture of Bergdahl on June 30, 2009, which is being led by Maj. Gen. Kenneth R. Dahl, the deputy commanding general of the Army's I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Members of Bergdahl’s unit have said Bergdahl voluntarily left his post in Afghanistan before he was captured. Those soldiers have expressed frustrations over past missions to find Bergdahl that resulted in U.S. casualties.
Military.com conducted a voluntary survey online from June 12 to June 16 to measure opinions on Bergdahl's return and the manner in which President Obama handled the recovery.
The controversy over the recovery of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has forced troops to debate whether a fellow service member should be returned to the U.S. no matter how he or she was captured, according to a new survey by Military.com.
About 40 percent of active duty service members who responded to the survey disagreed with the statement that a fellow service member should be returned home regardless of how they were captured.
The majority of the active duty troops, 60 percent, said fellow troops should be returned, but defense analysts said they were surprised the number wasn't higher.
Another survey conducted by Military.com found similar frustrations by U.S. troops over Bergdahl's recovery and how troops view his capture. The survey done earlier in June found that more than 80 percent of troops felt Bergdahl didn't deserve back pay during his imprisonment or a promotion.
An examination of pay and benefits information found that Bergdahl could stand to receive about $300,000 in pay and benefits from the time he served as a Taliban prisoner.
-- Michael Hoffman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org