This week on Serial…
Kenneth Dahl was responsible for taking Bowe’s statement which was before his time with the Taliban and up to his decision to walk. The statement took 380 pages. Dahl didn’t want just a simple statement but to really know who Bowe was which was Bowe’s story. That takes time to tell.
Bowe was very devoted to being a good soldier and yet he broke one of the cardinal rules which was abandoning his post. Until the day he walked, he was the best. He fellow platoon mates said that if anyone had to pick someone they wanted on their team, it would be Bowe. Bowe was not only a great soldier but he volunteered to do extra and looked out for the other guys. Bowe’s platoon mates also said that he was a little strange. He wasn’t interested in drinking, video games, sports or sex. He had a sense of humor but not to the extent of the others.
Bowe took up smoking while he was deployed but not cigarettes with the guys but a pipe. Bowe was always bringing up the history of a place or subject. One guy called him a ‘fact driven dude’.
Bowe’s issues with leadership didn’t begin at his unit in Afghanistan but the moment he entered the military. Bowe went into some details about how he had to stay behind in his initial deployment to Afghanistan due to a foot infection. This was a bad time in the war when we were losing. The troops were diverted from Iraq to Afghanistan. The team’s mission was counterinsurgency. They needed to take back the fight but also train the Afghanistans to do this themselves.
Bowe’s group was sent to meet the enemy and give them supplies. They were doing humanitarian work instead of what they were trained to do. The described the coloring books with maps of Afghanistan to the children. When Bowe arrived, they said he thought it was too cushy and he wanted the place to be rougher. They said he flipped his mattress to the tougher side to sleep on and slept with a tomahawk. He wanted the movie version and he got it after his first week. This event was the first trigger to Bowe’s dustwun. This event was the worst thing the platoon went through. They were trapped after the attack and had no supplies. On day 5, they were instructed to head out by a different path and leave the trucks. On there way, they came across a village with all the wrong signs. Another IED went off and they headed to evaluate. This moment began a battle with gunfire and everything. After the attack is over, the platoon leader didn’t check on the men or congratulate them. He comments about the fact that none of the men shaved. This is a moment that aggravates Bowe a lot. From then on, the platoon started carrying a disposable razor as a little ‘f u’.
Bowe was upset about the fact that the soldiers were being sent on missions that were dangerous for no reason. Bowe didn’t like to do the humanitarian things but he wanted to kill the bad guys even so far as calling the men ‘pussies’. Not only that, but Bowe felt the whole war was bull because whatever they were doing wasn’t helping the regular people in Afghanistan.
Sara wants to evaluate this statement, that what the mission was was bull. Was it? She asked Jason. Jason said for what they wanted to accomplish, people would need to be there for decades and one group. He said that the unit would get a great start around months 3-9 but once they rotated around, there was no guarantee that the new unit would continue what they started. Each new group had to start over and the messages didn’t always get conveyed well. One essential thing is that the Afghans are fighting their war and we’re fighting ours but do they two goals overlap?