On June 30, 2009, Bowe Bergdahl went missing in Afghanistan. My unit within the US Special Operations Command along with a select few SOF units, were alerted to conduct a hostage rescue/recovery mission in Afghanistan. The A.O. (area of operation) had stood down upon receiving the intel of Bergdahl’s disappearance. My element composed of 35 men, was alerted and sent to our briefing room to conduct our necessary planning in order to try and retrieve Bergdahl.
The intel that we were given at the time consisted of the following:
- Bergdahl D.O.B: March 28, 1986
- Assigned to 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska.
- Bergdahl's unit was sent to an outpost called Mest-Malak in Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations.
- We had all been given copies of his military issued ID card along with his PASS or FAIL security questions.
- His unit had been on a patrol where he had fallen behind during an enemy ambush and captured. (This has been proven FALSE through written and sworn statements from members in his unit, one of them being a man initialed N.B and my unit commander talking directly to Bergdahl’s GFC. There were no patrols on the night that Bergdahl went missing and Bergdahl had stated multiple times his desire and ambition to leave.)
With the intel that we had received that night, we kitted up and loaded two Chinook helicopters. With the support of multiple air assets, we flew to the last known location where he had been taken captive during the “ambush”.
As the HELO’s landed and we offloaded into the town, everyone noticed something oddly wrong. Absolute silence. There were no signs of enemy personnel, the expected AK-47 and M-4 shell casings were nonexistent, etc. I cannot at this time disclose the events which followed pertaining to this operation.
Although his unit had been placed on a gag order and told not talk about the incident, after several weeks of failed attempts to rescue Bergdahl and the loss of at least 6 known personnel, the entire story began to unravel.
According to Afghan villagers and elders close to the outpost, Bergdahl had asked where he could find the Taliban. A few children in the area also stated that they saw an American acting funny and wanting water while another local Afghan child had seen Bergdahl walk off the post. According to a few close friends of his and some letters he wrote home, he just wanted to find himself. Bergdahl left behind his weapon and other sensitive items, shipped his personal belongings home to Idaho, only taking some water and his knife.
Bergdhal had simply become disenchanted with Army life and wanted to seek out the Taliban on his own free will. He stated this in his letters home to his family as well as others in his squad and unit.
As more of the information came in, my unit, along with others in the community, simply stopped looking for him. As for the videos of Bergdahl in military and Afghan attire, we were privy to analyze and dissect all of the “unedited” video. We realized that he had vowed to help the Afghan people (meaning Taliban), and teach them tactics he had learned through his training. As for what he may have taught them, we are not sure, but we can say that American casualties and the amount of attacks in the area did increase following his capture.
After seeing what his father, now turned Muslim, had to say about his son in Afghanistan, I am truly appalled. During his opening speech given at the White House, his father praised him for “helping” the Afghan people and pushing for the release of all those detained in Guantanamo Bay. In the same speech, Mr. Bergdahl’s father went on to praise Allah saying, “bism allah alrahman alraheem” which means “in the name of Allah the most gracious and most merciful”.
Here is what I know, not from hearsay, but because I was there. Bergdahl became a sympathizer, walked off his post to seek out the Taliban in order to join their ranks, to help and live with them. In exchange for his release, the United States released the following 5 known Taliban; Khairullah Khairkhwa, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mullah Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mohammed Nabi who were immediately welcomed back into the Taliban network. The Taliban are currently seeking the release of additional prisoners, but will not state specifics. Now that they have the blue print on how to accomplish this by simply capturing an American soldier and with the troop number drawing down to 9,800+, I can only hope our service men and women keep their heads on a swivel.