Another 'No Easy Day' revelation: dramatic SEAL search for POW
The Pentagon and US government have been tight-lipped about Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only POW in the Afghanistan war. 'No Easy Day' sheds light on SEAL efforts to rescue him.
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The Pentagon, which says there are six US troops still missing from the First Gulf War to the present, has not commented on reports that Bergdahl may have wandered off his fortified base in Paktika Province, near the border with Pakistan, before being captured.
What is clear is that Sergeant Bergdahl was soon in the hands of Taliban forces that “quickly moved him closer to the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan in hopes of getting him across,” Bissonnette writes.
US intelligence analysts had tracked leads after his disappearance, and the SEALs had launched “several rescue attempts, but came up empty,” he reports. “It was a race to get him back before they smuggled him to Pakistan.”
The fear among US officials, he adds, was that the insurgents who captured him would eventually sell him to a more formidable terrorist group – namely, the Haqqani Network, allied with the Taliban but known for having greater organization and more brutal tactics against US forces.
It appears, in the end, that this is what happened. A spokesman for US Central Command, which runs the war in Afghanistan, told the weekly newspaper Human Events in May that Bergdahl is believed to be held by the Haqqani Network.
“We’re still actively looking for him and following leads whenever we can get them,” spokesman John Wagner said. “The Haqqanis are known for their communications security. They are just very quiet, and we’ve asked that they release him, and let him go back to his family.”
His captors did release five videos between December 2009 and May 2011 featuring Bergdahl.
On an evening just after the first video was released, the SEALs got information that Bergdahl was being held south of Kabul, Bissonnette writes. “We don’t have much intel to go off of,” he reports his troop commander saying as he pointed to a map of central Afghanistan, “but this is a priority.”
Using a small, extendable ladder that he carried on his back for the mission, Bissonnette reports that he launched a grenade in the direction of enemy fighters who were escaping the compound where they believed Bergdahl was being held.
Among the insurgent fighters the SEAL team killed, they found morphine kits and grenades. “They were professionals,” he writes, “not some farmers who picked up AK-47s when the crops weren’t in season.”
Ultimately, the SEALs failed to find Bergdahl during that mission, or during the remainder of their deployment.
“But in my gut, I think he was there at some point,” Bergdahl writes. “We probably missed him by a few hours, or maybe in the fight they were able to escape.”