[QODLink]
Americas

US soldier 'walked off base' before capture

A former Pentagon official tells AP news agency that Bowe Bergdahl, a Taliban captive for five years, was "delusional".

Last updated: 02 Jun 2014 20:44
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Bergdahl said he could help Afghans by leaving his post, members of his unit said [IntelCenter]

A US soldier freed after five years in Taliban captivity walked away from his unit and US military decided not to exert extraordinary efforts to rescue him, a former Pentagon official has told the AP news agency.

The agency on Monday reported the unnamed official as saying that the US government instead pursued negotiations to get Bowe Bergdahl back, leading to his release on Saturday.

The official told AP that a Pentagon report in 2010 concluded that he had walked away from his post in Afghanistan before his capture by Taliban fighters.

The official said that members of his unit portrayed him as a naive, "delusional" person who thought he could help the Afghan people by leaving his army post.

However a military investigation did not formally accuse Bergdahl of desertion, the official said.

The 28-year-old from Idaho was on Saturday exchanged for five senior Taliban figures held by the US in Guantanamo Bay prison in a deal brokered by Qatar.

Disillusioned

Bowe enlisted in 2008 without telling his parents, drawn by recruiters' promises that he would be able to go overseas to help people, according to a 2010 Rolling Stone profile.

Once deployed to Afghanistan, he appeared to become disillusioned about the US military mission. In his final email to his parents before his capture, he wrote, "I am ashamed to even be an American," Rolling Stone reported.

After he was captured on June 30, 2009, some believed he willingly walked away from his post. According to US diplomatic cables, Bergdahl's unit began searching for him that morning when he did not show up for roll call.

"He left of his own volition," one US defence official told the Reuters news agency, declining to be identified. "But we have no idea of his motivation, or what was going through this young man's mind at the time."

Asked whether Bergdahl should be disciplined, US national security adviser Susan Rice told ABC News on Sunday: "Anybody who's been held in those conditions in captivity for five years has paid an extraordinary price."

The comments came as some in the US began to question the swap of Bergdahl for five high-value Taliban prisoners.

John McCain, a leading Republican senator, said: "These are the highest high-risk people. Others that we have released have gone back into the fight."

Jay Carney, a White House spokesman, defended the decision. "We have a history in this country of making sure that our prisoners of war are returned to us - we don't leave them behind," he told CNN.

"The threat potentially posed by the returned detainees was sufficiently mitigated to allow us to move forward and get Bowe Bergdahl back home where he belongs."

445

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
In Brussels, NGO staff are being trained to fill the shortfall of field workers in West Africa.
Lawsuit by 6-year-old girl, locked up for a year, reignites debate over indefinite detention of 'boat people'.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Citizens of the tiny African nation say they're increasingly anxious of the fallout after alleged coup.
A humanitarian crisis and a budget crisis converge in the heart of the human smuggling corridor in Texas.
join our mailing list