November 1, 2017
U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl provided a “gold mine” of intelligence about the Taliban militants who held him captive in Afghanistan for five years, U.S. military intelligence officials have testified.
Speaking at Bergdahl’s sentencing hearing on desertion charges before a military court in the state of North Carolina, intelligence analyst Amber Dach described how eager Bergdahl was to help intelligence officials at a hospital in Germany days after he released in a prisoner swap with the Taliban in 2014.
Though his voice was weak, he helped authorities and even drew diagrams in his downtime to bring to his next debriefing session, she said.
Dach said his time in Germany was extended partly so he could offer additional time-sensitive intelligence.
“He was very motivated to just download all of the details that he recalled,” she testified. “It was a gold mine. It really reshaped the way we did intel collection in the area.”
An official from the military agency that helps reintegrate former captives and develops survival training for service members testified that information Bergdahl provided him was very valuable.
Terrence Russell, a division chief for the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, said he developed a 1,200-page transcript from debriefing Bergdahl that was turned into a database.
The information produced reports on tactics used by insurgents and hostage-takers in the region that are still used by the military, he said.
Russell said he’d like to learn even more from Bergdahl but the soldier’s legal case has impeded that.
“We don’t have very many examples coming out of Afghanistan,” he said.
Russell said he believes Bergdahl’s captivity was worse than any U.S. prisoner of war has experienced since the Vietnam era.
The military-intelligence witnesses were called by Bergdahl’s lawyers in an effort to win a lenient sentence from the court.
Based on reporting by AP and Reuters