DOD Seeks Captured Army Sergeant’s Return

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2012 — The Defense Depart­ment is doing every­thing pos­si­ble to secure the return of an Army sergeant who has been in Tal­iban hands for near­ly three years, Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta said today.

Dur­ing a Pen­ta­gon press con­fer­ence, Panet­ta respond­ed to ques­tions about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, whose par­ents have spo­ken with reporters this week about their son’s cap­tiv­i­ty.

The sec­re­tary said his heart goes out to the Bergdahl fam­i­ly.

“We cer­tain­ly under­stand the con­cerns of the fam­i­ly, and we share the con­cerns about Bergdahl and the impor­tance of get­ting him returned,” Panet­ta said. “And we’re doing every­thing pos­si­ble to try to see if we can make that hap­pen.”

Bergdahl, 26, from Hai­ley, Ida­ho, has been miss­ing since June 30, 2009, when his unit in Afghanistan not­ed his absence from roll-call. Bergdahl, who was a pri­vate first class when he was cap­tured, is assigned to 1st Bat­tal­ion, 501st Infantry Reg­i­ment, 4th Brigade Com­bat Team, 25th Infantry Divi­sion, Fort Richard­son, Alas­ka. The Army has pro­mot­ed him twice dur­ing his cap­tiv­i­ty. Bergdahl is the only U.S. ser­vice mem­ber known to be in ene­my cap­tiv­i­ty.

Asked whether Bergdahl’s return hinges on the release of some detainees now held at the Guan­tanamo Bay deten­tion facil­i­ty in Cuba, the sec­re­tary said his posi­tion on trans­fers has­n’t changed.

“I would only take [steps to trans­fer detainees] in accor­dance with the law and the require­ments of the law, and at this stage, frankly, there are no deci­sions that have been made with regards to that,” Panet­ta said.

Army Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the same press con­fer­ence that he has met with mem­bers of the sergeant’s fam­i­ly in his office and has cor­re­spond­ed with fam­i­ly mem­bers sev­er­al times.

“I under­stand their con­cerns. And I can assure you that we are doing every­thing in our pow­er using our intel­li­gence resources across the gov­ern­ment to try to find [him],” the gen­er­al said.

“I’ll give you one vignette,” he added. “If you go to the [U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand] com­mand cen­ter … con­fer­ence room, there’s [a] four-by-six foot poster of Bowe Bergdahl sit­ting in front of the podi­um to remind them, and there­fore us, every day that he remains miss­ing in action. I can assure you of that.”

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