Before this weekend, the last time I saw SGT Bowe Bergdahl’s face it graced the screensaver of my military computer in Paktia Province, Afghanistan. It was a reminder that the United States had but one prisoner of war, and he had gone missing about an hour away from where I was sitting.

I heard rumors about the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, but never put much stock in them. I was confident the real story would emerge someday, and when it does that story is usually more complicated than the rumor mills suggest.
That may not, however, be the case with SGT Bergdahl. I want to stress that I have no first hand knowledge of him or his disappearance. But two things I’ve read in the last few days have convinced me that he has some questions to answer. Eventually.
This piece by Jake Tapper gives a very good overview of the argument, including this telling paragraph:
"A reporter asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Sunday whether Bergdahl had left his post without permission or deserted — and, if so, whether he would be punished. Hagel didn’t answer directly. "Our first priority is assuring his well-being and his health and getting him reunited with his family," he said. "Other circumstances that may develop and questions, those will be dealt with later."
What might those "other circumstances" be? This soldier who allegedly served with SGT Bergdahl has an answer. He tells his story in tweets – such is the state of social media today – but once you get past the typos and misspellings it sounds extremely compelling. If @CodyFNfootball isn’t the real deal, he’s one hell of a charlatan.
Any remaining questions about SGT Bergdahl’s actions that morning can be answered very simply. Where were his sensitive items?
A soldier doesn’t go on patrol – or anywhere on the FOB/COP/OP – without his weapon or night vision device. There is a common phenomenon among soldiers for a few weeks after they return from combat. Walking around in uniform, you suddenly notice that you don’t have your weapon with you – you can’t feel the weight, it’s like something’s missing – and a huge wave of anxiety hits you until half a second later you realize you’re at home and you’re not supposed to carry your weapon. Then you laugh at how silly you were. This is how deeply the idea of never leaving your weapon in ingrained in you – it stays for weeks after you’re home.
If SGT Bergdahl was captured without these items, then his disappearance was a purposeful, planned act. Based on the accounts of his fellow soldiers, along with a tacit admission by the SecDef, this appears to be the case.
The context matters, of course, because a DUSTWUN essentially shuts down all other operations in the area. We do not leave men behind. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of men were either killed or wounded in the search for SGT Bergdahl. And his ultimate release was secured by the freeing of five dangerous residents of Guantanamo Bay.
I want to know why.
The inevitable press interviews and magazine features and book deals will likely focus on his time in captivity – a valid subject, of course – but they should be focused on the chain of events which landed in him captivity in the first place. Why did he walk away? What did he hope to accomplish? What did he accomplish? And having seen the murderous Haqqani network up close for nearly five years, what has he learned?
SGT Bergdahl’s father, in an interview two years ago with Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings, said "Ethics and morality would be constant verbiage in our conversations…Bowe was definitely instilled with truth. He was very philosophical about perceiving ethics."
We shall see, in the months and years to come, if the son lives up to the father’s depiction.
UPDATE: Great article here by Brad Thor. It puts forth another theory behind Bergdahl’s disappearance, and also raises a point I’d missed. Bergdahl was held by the Haqqani network, but the terrorists we released were almost all Taliban. Why?
Read the whole thing. There are many more questions that should be answered.
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