The Obama administration traded five nasty Taliban POWs for one captured American soldier, which may cause more Americans to be taken captive. Now the story gets even more interesting.
Soldiers who served with Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan are claiming he is a deserter who walked off his base in June 2009, but the Pentagon says it still doesn’t know exactly what happened.
“We still don’t have a complete picture of what caused him to leave his base that night,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said on CNN’s “New Day” Monday.
A number of Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers are speaking out after his rescue by U.S. Special Operations forces on Saturday night, after being held for five years by the Taliban.
Nathan Bradley Bethea wrote in The Daily Beast on Monday that they both served in the same battalion.
The night before he disappeared on June 30, Bethea said Bergdahl was on guard duty at a small outpost. The next morning, he failed to show up for morning roll call. Soldiers discovered his body armor, rifle, helmet and web gear in a neat stack, with his compass left behind, Bethea wrote.
“The truth is: Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down,” he said.
Soldiers were then forced to remain silent about Bergdahl’s disappearance and the search for him, Bethea added, which led to some soldiers losing their lives.
“I was pissed off then and I am even more so now with everything going on,” Former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon, told CNN. “”Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”
His former squad leader, Greg Leatherman, told CNN “I believe that an investigation should take place as soon as healthcare professionals deem him fit to endure one.”
At least six U.S. soldiers died hunting for Bergdahl, CNN reports.
Many of his fellow troops also told CNN that they had to sign nondisclosure agreements to never share information about his disappearance and the hunt for him.
Bergdahl’s mysterious disappearance from the small military outpost there and the subsequent revelation that he was in enemy hands prompted questions that still linger.When the father spoke to his son — for the first time in five worried years — it was to say both in Pashto and English, ‘I am your father, Bowe.’
Soon after the capture, Taliban commander Mulvi Sangeen claimed a drunken Bergdahl was snatched while he stumbled to his car in the Yousaf Khel district of Paktika.
The US military called that a lie, and in one of the videos taken during his captivity, Bergdahl himself said he was captured while lagging behind a patrol.
But in the weeks before his capture, Bergdahl had made murky statements that suggested he was gravitating away from the soldiers in his unit and toward desertion, a member of his platoon told Rolling Stone.
“He spent more time with the Afghans than he did with his platoon,” former Spc. Jason Fry told the magazine in 2012.
As a teen, the home-schooled son of Calvinists took up ballet — recruited to be a “lifter” by “a beautiful local girl,” Rolling Stone reported, “the guy who holds the girl aloft in a ballet sequence.” The strategy worked: Bergdahl — who also began dabbling in Buddhism and tarot card reading — soon moved in with the woman.
Even as a teen, he could fire a .22-caliber rifle with precision.
At age 20, he traveled to Paris and started learning French in hopes of joining the French Foreign Legion.
His application was rejected, and he was devastated, the magazine reported.
Bergdahl would drift for years, working mainly at a coffee shop near home. He briefly considered moving to Uganda to help villagers being terrorized by militias before deciding on a different adventure.
Bergdahl’s dream was to help Afghan villagers rebuild their lives and learn to defend themselves, his dad told the magazine.
“The whole ‘COIN’ thing,” Bob explained, referring to America’s strategy of counter-insurgency. “We were given a fictitious picture, an artificially created picture of what we were doing in Afghanistan,” the dad said.
Bowe Bergdahl would detail his disillusionment with the Afghanistan campaign in an email to his parents three days before he went missing.
“I am sorry for everything here,” he wrote. “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid.”
Bergdahl also complained about fellow soldiers. The battalion commander was a “conceited old fool,” he said, and the only “decent” sergeants, planning to leave the platoon “as soon as they can,” told the privates — Bergdahl then among them — “to do the same.”
“I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools,” he concluded. “I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”
Bob Bergdahl responded in an email: “OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!”