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Soldier: Bowe Bergdahl lodged false war crime allegations against his unit


U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Berghdal lodged false allegations that his unit carried out atrocities while in Afghanistan, a fellow soldier told Congress on Wednesday.  Photo via REUTERS/U.S. Army

An Army veteran who served alongside Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan said Wednesday that the long-captive soldier was deeply frustrated with the mission and had lodged false allegations that their unit had carried out atrocities.

Bergdahl “didn’t understand why we were doing more humanitarian aid drops, setting up clinics, and helping the populous instead of hunting the Taliban,” former Spec. Cody Full told lawmakers during a hearing on the exchange of Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. “He wanted to hunt and kill.”

[posttv url="http://www.washingtonpost.com/posttv/national/house-committee-holds-hearing-on-bergdahl-swap/2014/06/18/ad1268e6-7d11-4b5e-ab81-9702f399f81e_video.html" ]

The Taliban released Bergdahl to U.S. Special Operations forces May 31 after he had spent nearly five years in captivity. Bergdahl, the last American service member to be held captive in Afghanistan, went missing from his remote outpost in June 2009 and was seized shortly thereafter.

In exchange for his release, the Taliban officials were transferred to Qatar, where they will be held for a year before being sent back to Afghanistan.

Both the terms of the prisoner swap and the Obama administration’s failure to notify Congress in advance have been the subject of persistent criticism. Bergdahl has also been criticized by some former members of his unit who believe he sought to desert the Army.

Full, who was honorably discharged and served with Bergdahl in the same fire team, the military’s smallest type of organized unit, railed against Bergdahl’s attitude during his deployment in 2009 and rejected media reports that he was a sensitive young man trying to define himself during a time of war. His handwritten journal, along with essays, stories and e-mails provided to The Washington Post, painted him as a soldier full of worry about his own mental health and the situation in Afghanistan.

“Bergdahl was complaining to his parents that our platoon was committing atrocities instead of helping the local populous,” Full told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “But he was telling our platoon that we needed to stop trying to win hearts and minds and focus more on killing the Taliban.”

Full also dismissed suggestions that Bergdahl’s platoon had discipline issues.

“It’s a ridiculous charge,” Full said. “Security was always in place. These acts of common sense survival did not jeopardize the security or put anyone in danger.”

Bergdahl, who is not believed to have spoken to his parents since his release, is currently recovering in San Antonio, Tex., after a brief stay at Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany. He is set to be released in the coming weeks following the completion of reintegration treatment.

The Army has opened an investigation into the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance and capture. While the investigation, led by Maj. General Kenneth Dahl, has started, there is no concrete timeline for its completion and Bergdahl is not expected to speak with investigators until after he finishes his recovery.

Thomas Gibbons-Neff is a staff writer and a former Marine infantryman.

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