Former military comrades of Bowe Bergdahl have called the released American prisoner of war a deserter whose “selfish” actions costs the lives of six fellow soldiers searching for him.
His army peers said they were expressing their anger in public for the first time because they had previously faced the risk of prosecution if they spoke out while efforts continued to free him.
Their scathing comments were in sharp contrast to the pride expressed by the Obama administration at securing the soldier’s release and fuelled the controversy that five senior Afghan Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay were freed in the swap.
“He is safe, and now it is time to speak the truth,” said Nathan Bradley Bethea, an officer who served with Mr Berghdahl in the the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. “The truth is: Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down.”
Writing for The Daily Beast website, Mr Bethea dismissed reports that Mr Berghdahl might have been seized as he lagged behind on a patrol and insisted that members of his platoon have always known that he had walked off base in Afghanistan’s Paktika province.
He said that the US military launched daily search missions for the missing private, effectively de-railing counter-insurgency operations in the region.
“The war was already absurd and quixotic, but the hunt for Bergdahl was even more infuriating because it was all the result of some kid doing something unnecessary by his own volition,” he said.
Most damningly, he named six men who were killed in ambushes, firefights or by improvised explosive devices in August and September 2009 during search operations for Bergdahl and his suspected captors.
SOURCE: Philip Sherwell