Bergdahl was a deserter, member of his battalion says


Then-Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl neatly stacked his gear — including his body armor, gun, helmet — at a U.S. base in Afghanistan the night before June 30, 2009, and deserted,  Nathan Bradley Bethea, an infantry officer in Bergdahl’s battalion, writes in the Daily Beast.

Among Bethea’s insights into the murky disappearance of Bergdahl …

1) Soldiers in his unit were told by superiors not to talk about Bergdahl for fear it would give information to the enemy.

2) The U.S. “base” in Paktika province where Bergdahl’s unit was posted was like something out of the Wild West: It was nothing more than Army vehicles parked in a circle with only razor wire to ward off the enemy. The soldiers slept in tents or their vehicles.

3) His unit found out Bergdahl was missing at roll call. The one piece of gear he had taken with him? A compass.

4) Combat platoons — employing arrays of “radio intercept teams, military working dogs, professional anthropologists used as intelligence gathering teams, Afghan sources in disguise” — went on search missions for days at a time trying to find the errant Bergdahl.

5) Russian contractors helped with the search. The search teams “intermittently received resupply from soot-coated Mi-17s piloted by Russian contractors, many of whom were Soviet veterans of Afghanistan,” Bethea writes.

6) With intelligence aircraft in the area focused on searching for Bergdahl, a U.S. outpost of the sister battalion nearby didn’t have the drones and planes it needed to foresee an attack on July 4. Two Americans were killed in the attack.

7) Bethea attributes the deaths of six soldiers to the search for the missing private.

Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon, is angry.

“I was pissed off then, and I am even more so now with everything going on,” the onetime sergeant tells CNN. “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war, and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”

Read more at the Daily Beast.