So, documents have been released about Bowe Begddahl. Those documents shed light on the troubled young man. He tried to join the French Foreign Legion. He grew up in a regimented home. He was home schooled. He had limited contact with girls until he was 16 or 17. His father, not a veteran, but still enamored of the military way of life, ran the home like a military unit. It was, as Mr. Begddahl says, not a good place to be. They lived in a rural area of Idaho.
So, recognizing his social limitations, he sought to confront what he saw as a weakness. He went to Paris, not speaking a word of French, and tried to join the French Foreign Legion. They rejected him because of his eyes. He found that to be a relief. Soon afterward, he joined the Coast Guard. But, he had a breakdown, a panic attack during boot camp. When he joined the Coast Guard, he was not talking with his parents. He told no one he would join. He felt that joining was his way of “pulling his own weight.” He felt like the information he received from his family was that he could not succeed. So, failing with the Coast Guard, he wanted some way to show he could succeed.
His time in the Army was dismaying, he told the Army after his release from captivity. At the National Training Center, which is a premier Army training event, was disappointing. He spent most of his time policing cigarette butts and sorting through expended brass.
So, if that disappointed him, it is safe to say he expected much more than was realistic. The Army cannot function without a lot of time devoted to mundane, boring tasks. And, as a young private, that is largely what you do. Sure, the young soldier will get his chance for glory. But, not without first picking up a lot of cigarette butts.
The newly released papers also indicate medical authorities said SGT Bergdahl is competent to stand trial. But, he suffers from a schizotypal personality disorder, which causes persons to suffer in their thoughts and social relationships. See San Antonio Express News report.
SGT Bergdahl joined the Army at the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He joined at a time when the Army struggled to meet its recruiting goals. We get a peek in this instance of the sort of soldiers the all volunteer force was accepting. He was a troubled young man who probably was not ready for the demands of a combat ready force. It seems to me that the troubles with SGT Bergdahl’s conduct lie with the Army itself as much with that problematic young soldier.