As all who have been following this blog or following me on twitter know, I have been following this missing soldier issue ever sine it has happened. I have had multiple sources in and outside of Afghanistan feeding me info that I have pretty much been keeping to myself out of respect for the soldierâ€™s safety, OPSEC, and the family.
A week or so ago my fried PJ Tobia put up a blog story about this soldier which told how it is referred in country by the soldiers as Operation Whereâ€™s Waldo. Of course that is not the official name of the operation looking for this soldier, but it is what all the troops on the ground have been calling it.
Within a day of putting up my posting which pointed to PJâ€™s, I took it down. In hindsight and after much consideration I decided to not spread the word on this yet. There was something in me that knew many, many family members of deployed service-members read this blog and I didnâ€™t want my blog to be the conduit of more pain in this familyâ€™s life.
However now that the video is out and it is very clear that the soldier is not under any duress, stress, strain, etc. I think it is safe to call it like it is. I have said from the onset that this was a very fishy case and it did not add up.
After seeing the video, I feel even more so now. The rumors of desertion and walking off his base voluntarily have been out there for the last 10 days. The video speaks volumes if you know what to look for and I donâ€™t mean having to be trained to read body language, etc. It is common sense.
He has no marks, no visible wounds, he is eating well (not scarfing it down), he is talking in a calm demeanor and overall looks very stress free. He is even sporting one nice looking Taliban haircut and beard. The Taliban and most in the rural areas of the mid-east shave with straight-razors. They donâ€™t have Gillette and Schick out in the middle of nowhere. This kidâ€™s head has been neatly shaved with a straight-razor yet he has no cuts, or scrapes. Even a twitch or a shake of the head would guarantee a slice of the scalp somewhere. So what that tells me is he was calm and still as they shaved his head. Just something to think about.
I know exactly the area he went missing and I know the base he went missing from very well. I, along with many others I am sure, are trying to figure out how he ended up getting off the base and nobody seeing this soldier with apparently no tactical gear walking in the open. I am sure there are a lot of questions being asked of his chain of command. Regardless of how this turns out for this soldier, I think there are many leaders in his unit whoâ€™s careers are over. I hope not (unless they are guilty of negligence). I think one must also look at the mental state of this soldier and evaluate if he ever showed signs that would cause those that know him to think he would be capable of this.
He came in the Army just one year ago. He enlisted in June of 2008, went to basic training, AIT, and airborne school before being assigned to the Geronimos of the 1/501st ABN. We now know he was home-schooled, and was very active in the ballet and in fencing. Not exactly the type of person that wants to excel and be part of a high-speed Airborne Infantry Unit, if you ask me. Could it be his fellow soldiers knew of his past and harassed him? Could they have made him feel like an outsider? Who knows, and really it does not matter as what he did (if desertion as PJ implies) is inexcusable. I am confident that as the past comes to light we will see this soldier demonstrated behavior that would be considered outside the norm.
I saw an AP report that stated this soldier lagged behind on a patrol and it implied he was kidnapped that way. But the same article said he was not noticed missing until a formation the next day. I can tell you that story is complete BS. No leader of any kind takes his unit on dismounted patrol and then comes back into the base without knowing he has everyone. Afghanistan is not the type of environment where everyone walks â€œRanger Fileâ€ or â€œDucks in a Rowâ€ and you lose someone because they are walking slow. Were not talking about triple canopy jungle here, we are talking about desert. Regardless, that story is completely false and shame on the Associated Press for even thinking about printing it, much less actually printing it.
Overall this is a sad case for all except the enemy. This is a huge IO (Information Operations) campaign for them and they will come out smelling like a rose to those they can influence.
This is sad for the soldier, sad for his unit and the chain of command (whoâ€™s careers are probably over), sad for all the soldiers in Afghanistan who are working non-stop night and day looking for him and not doing their regular missions, sad for Afghanistan whom should be using the American assistance to get ready for the national elections one month from today. I can guarantee that in this area of Pakitika, Ghazni, and Paktia provinces they arenâ€™t focusing on election preparation and probably are focusing on nothing but finding this soldier. It is also very sad for the Afghan and US family members of soldiers who have been killed or wounded as a result of the exhaustive and extensive searching that has been going on.
Most importantly it is sad for his family, who is probably getting no sleep or rest ever since they found out it was him missing back on June 30th (when they were first notified). If he did break ranks or if he does go to the other side it will even be more painful for them.Â They will suffer forever because of this. Unless our military is able to rescue him, I doubt he will ever be released alive. The Taliban will use him for everything they can to sway Afghan and US public opinion.
As a parent of a combat vet myself, I cannot imagine the heartbreak or anxiety they feel. I am very sorry for them if the indications and allegations are true. With all that said, I will close this posting for now. Stay tuned here to Bouhammer.com as I will post updates as they become public knowledge.
The link to PJâ€™s article is here, http://trueslant.com/pjtobia/2009/07/20/source-bergdahl-deserted/
The entire 28 minutes of video (and not just the parts that the MSM wants you to see) is below.