Hamilton — A tale of three soldiers: Gant, Petraeus, and Bergdahl
The first word in the Uniform Code of Military Justices (UCMJ) is “uniform,” which doesn’t have to do with the wearing of military uniforms. “Uniform” means that the Code of Military Justice is supposed to be applied “uniformly” to all who serve in our armed forces and are, thereby, subject to its provisions.
With that in mind, we come to the strange cases of retired Army Maj. Jim Gant, retired four-star Gen. David Petraeus, and Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who could possibly be tried under the UCMJ for desertion. (See: UCMJ Article 85.)
Those who read Ann Scott Tyson’s American Spartan: the Promise, the Mission, and the Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant, know that Maj. Gant was acclaimed at one time for putting into effect the traditional Special Forces concept of actually living with indigenous forces (detractors call it: going native) and training them to fight against tyranny. Historically, the concept of winning indigenous people to the cause of liberty “one tribe at a time” has many authors; however, Maj.Gant put the concept into effect so well in Afghanistan that his Special Forces unit was deluged with general officers (to include Gen. Petraeus) and senior members of Congress who marveled at how Maj.Gant had won the “hearts and minds” of the local Afghan warlords and was actually pacifying his portion of Afghanistan “one tribe at a time.”
But, with his scruffy, long beard and Afghan tribal dress, Maj. Gant drew the ire of the traditional, clean-shaven, parade-ground military establishment that claimed to be shocked that Gant and his team drank alcohol and, worst of all; Gant had his “woman” living alongside him in the same primitive conditions as the Afghan tribes he was training.
For their part, the Afghans felt the presence of Maj. Gant’s “woman” was a sign of America’s commitment to Afghanistan. That was the upside. The downside was that Gant and the woman — Ann Scott Tyson — had abandoned their spouses and children back home in America to live together in Afghanistan. Rather than face a court-martial, Gant retired and married Ann Scott Tyson.
Now, fast forward to the possibility that charges may be brought against retired Gen. Petraeus for allegedly sharing classified information with his already married female biographer with whom he was having an affair. Inexplicably, that decision is now in the hands of Attorney General Eric Holder and, of course, President Obama. The House Select Committee on Benghazi may tell us whether then CIA Director Petraeus’ behavior before, during, and after the Benghazi attack was impacted by what President Obama knew about Petraeus’ betrayal of his wife of almost 40 years. Ironically, Gen. Petraeus wrote a dust-jacket blurb in praise of Ann Scott Tyson’s book about her life in Afghanistan with Maj. Jim Gant.
Finally, we come to Sgt. Bergdahl who, according to his platoon mates, deserted his post in Afghanistan and joined the Taliban and whose desertion may have cost the lives of fellow soldiers who were sent out on patrol to look for him. We know what threat of the UCMJ did to Maj. Gant. But will the UCMJ be applied “uniformly” to Gen. Petraeus and to Sgt.Bergdahl? You watch. You decide.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
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