Saturday, April 2, 2016

"Serial" podcast raises questions about soldiers dying looking for Bergdahl

By Jim Emerson, staff writer
The investigative storytellers have released the final of season II podcast revising history of the Bergdahl ordeal. It began on June 30, 2009 when Bergdahl walked off Observation Post Mest after midnight. He left his post in an attempt to report how lousy his unit leadership was to Forward Operating Base Sharana some 20 miles away. He didn’t get too far before being captured by the Taliban. He was kept as a hostage by the Haqqani group in Pakistan. As he walked away from his base, Bergdahl left his gear, weapon and a note renouncing American citizenship. 
Bowe Bergdahl
"Serial" finished its second season focusing on the AWOL soldier in an attempt to debunk the “persistent rumor that six soldiers from his battalion had been killed during the 45-day, all-out search for Bergdahl.”   Anywhere from six to eight soldiers were killed in the search for Bergdahl. “Serial” producer Sarah Koenig argues “it’s hard to determine whether those soldiers actually died while searching for Bergdahl because the situation was so nebulous.” “Missions involving a search for the soldier that resulted in deaths weren’t only about that search.” This is where the producer enters a grey area by not understanding the difference in primary vs. secondary mission requirements. 
The season closer featured Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Ken Wolf, the top enlisted leader in Bergdahl's brigade, the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment. In a message to parents, Wolf told "Serial” that “Their sons did not die looking for Pfc. Bergdahl."  The podcast splits hairs when it claims that no-one on the primary mission of looking for Bergdahl was killed during the 45-day search. 

Bergdahl and "Captor"
The search however played a secondary role to the securing of Afghanistan for upcoming elections. During that time two soldiers of the brigade were killed: on Jul 4, 2009, Pfc Justin Casillas, 19, Dunigan, CA, and Pvt Aaron Fairbairn, 20, Aberdeen, WA. Soon after the elections in Afghanistan, Staff Sgt Clay Bowen, 29, San Antonio TX and Staff Sgt Kurt Curtiss, 27, Murray, UT also died. 
It has been claimed that the Army had intelligence indicating that Bergdahl had been moved to Pakistan. (1) But the fact is that no one knew for certain where Bergdahl was at the time of the search and even soldiers on missions against other high interest targets were not going to simply give up the search. They would attempt to continue gaining information on Bergdahl and the Haqqani group. And secondary mission or not, people were killed on account of it. “Serial” arguing that the Army had intelligence on Bergdahl's location is revisionism. At the time nobody knew where he was and it would not be reasonable to conclude the he was moved to Pakistan.
Major Mike Waltz concluded on the podcast: “I’m absolutely adamant in my mind that soldiers were either put in harm’s way or were harmed looking for him.”

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