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Saturday, April 2, 2016
"Serial" podcast raises questions about soldiers dying looking for Bergdahl
By Jim Emerson, staff writer
The investigative storytellershave 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.
"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
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.”