Afghanistan — Pentagon Won’t List Sailor as Captured in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2010 — The Defense Depart­ment has iden­ti­fied two sailors who went miss­ing in Afghanistan’s Log­ar province last week, and U.S. forces there are focused on find­ing one still unac­count­ed for, a Pen­ta­gon spokesman said today.

U.S. forces in Afghanistan are inves­ti­gat­ing what caused the two to go miss­ing July 23, but more impor­tant­ly, Marine Corps Col. David Lapan told reporters, is the effort to find Pet­ty Offi­cer 3rd Class Jar­od Newlove, 25, of Ren­ton, Wash. 

Newlove was believed to be with Pet­ty Offi­cer 2nd Class Justin McNe­ley, 30, of Wheatridge, Colo., when the two dis­ap­peared from their post in Log­ar province. McNe­ley died from wounds suf­fered in the inci­dent and his body was recov­ered July 25 after an exten­sive search, accord­ing to a Pen­ta­gon press release issued late yes­ter­day. McNe­ley was assigned to Assault Craft Unit 1 in San Diego, the release said. 

Newlove is list­ed as “duty sta­tus where­abouts unknown” and he’ll con­tin­ue to be list­ed in that sta­tus unless or until there is firm evi­dence that he has been cap­tured, Lapan said. 

The Taliban’s state­ment of cap­ture is not enough, he said. 

Such a sta­tus change occurred when the Tal­iban released videos of Army Spec. Robert “Bowe” Bergdahl. In that case, Lapan said, the videos were authen­ti­cat­ed by U.S. officials. 

Bergdahl, who went miss­ing from his post in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009, is the only U.S. ser­vice­mem­ber known to be held cap­tive by the Taliban. 

Asked today about Newlove, Lapan said, “There’s no infor­ma­tion on his where­abouts, but that’s what we’re work­ing hard to fig­ure out.”

Media reports that the sailors were cap­tured after tak­ing a wrong turn in a truck “are high­ly spec­u­la­tive,” Lapan said. 

Part of the inves­ti­ga­tion, Lapan said, is whether there were wit­ness­es to the inci­dent. He acknowl­edged mil­i­tary offi­cials will not say much about the investigation. 

“We don’t need to tip off the ene­my to what we’re doing,” he Lapan. 

For now, find­ing Newlove is the top pri­or­i­ty, Lapan said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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