News / USA

    Obama: We Don't Leave Soldiers Behind

    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks as he and President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland hold a news conference after their meeting at Belweder Palace in Warsaw, June 3, 2014.
    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks as he and President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland hold a news conference after their meeting at Belweder Palace in Warsaw, June 3, 2014.
    VOA News
    President Barack Obama on Tuesday defended the deal to get U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl out of Taliban captivity, saying questions that have emerged about the circumstances of the soldier's capture did not negate the need to bring him home.

    As Bergdahl emerges from five years of captivity, former comrades have accused him of walking away from his unit, prompting a manhunt that they say cost the lives of at least six fellow soldiers.

    “We don't leave soldiers behind. ... Whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he's held in captivity. Period. Full stop,” Obama said at a news conference in Poland.
     
    This video frame grab taken from a Taliban propaganda video released Saturday, July 18, 2009 shows Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared June 30, 2009.This video frame grab taken from a Taliban propaganda video released Saturday, July 18, 2009 shows Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared June 30, 2009.
    x
    This video frame grab taken from a Taliban propaganda video released Saturday, July 18, 2009 shows Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared June 30, 2009.
    This video frame grab taken from a Taliban propaganda video released Saturday, July 18, 2009 shows Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared June 30, 2009.

    The United States is committed to freeing its prisoners of war regardless of how they were captured, Obama said.

    "That's what every mom and dad who sends a son or daughter [to war] should expect from the United States," he added.

    U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday that the Army “will not look away from misconduct if it occurred” although other military officials have indicated Bergdahl would not face any charges after his five-year ordeal.

    The New York Times cited a former military official as saying Bergdahl slipped away from his base near the Afghan border with Pakistan, leaving a note saying he had become disillusioned with the army and the war and was going to start a new life.

    Dempsey stressed that Bergdahl, who was taken as a private and promoted while in captivity, is innocent until proven guilty, and that the military would continue to care for him and his family.

    "The questions about this particular soldier's conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity," Dempsey wrote in a statement.

    "This was likely the last, best opportunity to free him. As for the circumstances of his capture, when he is able to provide them, we'll learn the facts,” Dempsey added.
     
    Reintegration of recovered military personnel

    The process used by the military to help recovered personnel return to normal life
    involves medical care, psychological support, debriefings and family support.

    It is carried out in three phases:

    - Phase 1: Initial Recovery - The returnee is given medical triage, psychological support and a tactical debriefing

    - Phase 2: Decompression Location - The returnee is moved to a regional hospital for at least 72 hours for more medical exams and debriefings

    - Phase 3: United States Base - The returnee is reunited with family and receives more medical care and final debriefings

    Source: U.S. Army
    Bergdahl undergoing tests

    Bergdahl, who was flown to a military hospital in Germany over the weekend to undergo physical and mental assessments, was not being interrogated and had not yet seen his family, Obama said.

    The president, who has drawn criticism for not notifying Congress ahead of the transfer of five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar in return for Bergdahl's release, said his administration had told lawmakers earlier about a possible swap.

    “We have consulted with Congress for quite some time about the possibility that we might need to execute a prisoner exchange in order to recover Sgt. Bergdahl. We saw an opportunity. We were concerned about Sgt. Bergdahl's health,” Obama said.

    “We seized that opportunity. And the process was truncated because we wanted to make sure that we did not miss that window.”

    Obama acknowledged that the freed Taliban fighters could potentially act against U.S. security but said the United States could go after them if they did.

    "The Qataris will be keeping eyes on them. We will be keeping eyes on them. Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely,” Obama said.

    “I wouldn't be doing it if I thought that it was contrary to American national security and we have confidence that we will be in a position to go after them if in fact they are engaging in activities that threaten our defenses.”  

    Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Steve S from: Cupertino, CA
    June 04, 2014 5:53 PM
    "We don't leave soldiers behind. ... Whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he's held in captivity. Period. Full stop"

    I don't believe that's true. The president is obligated to reflect the will of the American people, most of whom are disgusted with a deserter.

    by: Ronald Wayne Savoy from: United States
    June 03, 2014 4:47 PM
    What a bald faced lie by Obama.He states "We leave no soldiers behind" .Then why do we have a soldier languishing in a Mexican prison.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora