It’s an axiom among military leaders: command is not a popularity contest. That folk wisdom has given a measure of comfort to many officers whose soldiers resent them for sending them into harm’s way — and frustrated many more soldiers convinced that their commander really does not have their best interests at heart.

What no commander expects is for a junior soldier, when he does dislike his commander, to walk off into enemy territory. But that was what Bowe Bergdahl did — and, by his own account, excerpted at length in the latest episode of the hit podcast “Serial,” that was why he did it.

The commander of Bergdahl’s unit — then-Lt. Col. Clint Baker, the Texan graduate of West Point who led the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment — was an “out-of-control” menace, Bergdahl told filmmaker Mark Boal in one of the interviews the podcast excerpted. “I wouldn’t put it past him to purposely put me and my platoon-mates in harm’s way just because he has a personal grudge against us” or for other nefarious reasons hidden from junior soldiers.

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