February 22, 2014

Five Afghan Taliban Offered in Prisoner Exchange for Sgt Bowe Bergdahl

According to recent reporting from the Washington Post, the US is mounting a last-ditch effort to recover US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from his alleged Haqqani Network captors holding him in the lawless Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan.

This effort comes amidst the major drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan expected by the end of this year.  As SOFREP has previously reported, Sgt. Bergdahl is the only living American POW, and one of two Americans currently being held hostage in Pakistan at this time.

In exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl’s release through a third party mediator, the US has offered a prisoner exchange for five Afghan Taliban fighters currently being held at Guantanamo Bay.  While the US has offered such an exchange previously, the simultaneous release of all five Taliban fighters was never an option until now.

According to the Washington Post, this decision to release the five fighters simultaneously was made within the past month, most likely in light of the most recent proof-of-life video showing Sgt. Bergdahl in poor condition sometime around December of 2013.

Sgt. Bergdahl as seen in Taliban video, courtesy of DailyMail

The US has announced that any prisoner exchange between the US and Taliban will be mediated in Qatar, who has come under fire several times last year for enabling the Taliban to achieve a number of relatively significant political victories on the international stage.  As SOFREP has previously reported, the Taliban in 2013 used the opening of one of their short-lived offices in Qatar as a tool to spread their propaganda, publicly question the legitimacy of the Karzai government, and to gain international attention on the world stage.

This recent push to recover Sgt. Bergdahl is highly significant due to the political nature of such a personnel recovery, which is completely controlled by the impending drawdown in Afghanistan as well as the state of Afghanistan-Pakistan relations.  As SOFREP’s Bright Light has previously reported, at this point, any bids to recover Sgt. Bergdahl bears heavily on strategic-level discourse between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the US, each with their own strategic level objectives that need to be fulfilled.

While the events leading up to Sgt. Bergdahl’s captivity by the Haqqani Network has received significant conflicting reactions since his disappearance and subsequent capture in eastern Afghanistan in 2009, the fact remains that he is an American POW and needs to be brought home.

With few options remaining on the table, this last-ditch effort will hopefully provide the Taliban with the satisfaction they need to release Sgt. Bergdahl to the Qataris in good order.  While US efforts to recover Sgt. Bergdahl are not likely to cease following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan should the recovery fail, the Taliban will likely realize their prime opportunity to recover five of their own fighters when they may not see another offer.

Thanks for listening.

About the Author

is a junior active duty officer working ground intel and supporting an airborne-capable unit. Not SOF, just a regular guy. He holds a BS in Political Science with a German minor from a small engineering school in Colorado, where he loves the adventure found in the mountains. He strongly advocates admitting nothing, denying everything, and making counter-accusations. Nothing here is written in an official capacity or represents the positions of the USG; all work is his personal opinion alone. NFQ

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  • r3b3lfrogman

    BrandonTWebb I feel like I know what unit would be good to use for his recovery.

  • Motleynomad

    SERE taught me a lot of things. And as such, .....unlike part of the first paragraph (we don't have a "last ditch effort"), we will never cease to try to get this guy back.  We were taught that from day one. I hope and pray he is keeping the faith. Because, even as I sleep at night....I am also hoping and praying WE ARE KEEPING THE FAITH to get him back. So help me god if we are NOT!  and BTW, if I may vent after today's news. "F* you Karzi", we should bring the boys home and let him have his shit. I am sick and tired of us feeling like we need to try and help his sorry corrupt ass! Shit, lets open up Afgan to drone strikes too!  BRING THE BOYS HOME! NOW!! God Bless!!!

  • JohnChristopher1

    "made the choice to leave his unit" Even assuming he did, how much does that really matter? He wouldn't be the first (in Iraq/Afghanistan or elsewhere) who, when the stress of deployment and combat simply became too much, left his post thinking of not returning -- only to re-think (or be so encouraged) a day later and return. Isn't that why there's a 30-day "window": it's not the leaving, it's the not returning that marks "desertion"? Until then, he's just AWOL. On a side note, "The Deserters: A Hidden History of World War II" is a worthwhile read, shedding some light, and a bit of sympathy (perhaps more than you all might fancy), on an under-examined aspect of WWII. One of the more curious details is that frontline troops were remarkably more sympathetic and willing to lend aid to AWOLs than were pogues.

  • YankeePapa

    Recon6 37OIF, . ...The short answer is that nobody knows.  I have an item here from 2012 that sums up the confusion... Though Hastings is quoted... the piece pretty much sums up what we know... . ...The Army has promoted him... which would seem to imply that at least they have no overwhelming evidence... while others in the Pentagon have made comments indicating something else... . http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/13/new-report-says-captive-u-s-solider-left-his-post-willingly/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 . -YP-

  • Recon6

    37OIF   I have yet to read anything definitive that proves he "made the choice to leave his unit", do you have such? ....6