Three former members of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's platoon spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday about Bergdahl's disappearance, his freedom and how he should be treated now that he's out. The interviews were facilitated by a public relations firm, Capitol Media Partners, co-owned by Republican strategist Richard Grenell. All three men said Bergdahl should be investigated for desertion. Army Chief of Staff Gen. John McHugh said Tuesday that after Bergdahl has recovered, the Army will "review" the circumstances of his disappearance.
Evan Buetow, 27, who was a sergeant in the platoon:
Buetow, speaking from Maple Valley, Washington, said Bergdahl had asked him a number of questions a short time before his disappearance that, in retrospect, make it apparent that Bergdahl had been planning to leave.
Bergdahl asked him, for example, how much of a cash advance he could get and how to go about mailing home his personal computer and other belongings. He also asked what would happen if his weapon and other sensitive items such as night vision goggles went missing. He said he told Bergdahl that, as any soldier would know, that would be "a big deal."
"At the time ... it wasn't really alarming" to hear Bergdahl ask about those things, Buetow said. "Yes, it was a kind of off-the-wall question," but the notion of a fellow soldier running off during the night seemed so far-fetched as to not be possible, he said.
Buetow said he feels strongly that Bergdahl should face trial for desertion, but he said it is less clear that he should be blamed for the deaths of all soldiers killed during months of trying to find him. Beutow said he knows of at least one death on an intelligence-directed infantry patrol to a village in search of Bergdahl. More broadly, the mission of his entire unit changed after Bergdahl's disappearance because it began to incorporate efforts to pursue clues to his whereabouts.
"Those soldiers who died on those missions, they would not have been where they were ... if Bergdahl had never walked away," he said. "At the same time I do believe it is somewhat unfair for people to say, 'It is Bergdahl's fault that these people are dead.' I think that's a little harsh."
Read more at the Associated Press