Pentagon expert credits Bergdahl with providing vital intelligence on his captors

But a Pentagon official told the court Tuesday that Bergdahl gained valuable intelligence during his subsequent capture and that he deserves leniency so that he can share his knowledge with troops in Afghanistan today.
By Tobi Gerdes | Nov 03, 2017
U.S. Amy Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl made many enemies in the military when he deserted his post in Afghanistan in 2009, buta Pentagon experttestified at his sentencing hearing Tuesday that U.S. military forces are better off because of the intelligence that Bergdahl gained firsthand during his subsequent capture and detainment in Pakistan. The expert urged the court to grant Bergdahl some leniency so thattheformer prisoner could be available to share what he knows with troops in Afghanistan today.

"Can you give him to me now? I need him now. I needed him three years ago," said Terrence Russell of the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, the top Pentagon group involved in recovering prisoners of war and other captives. "The fact I can't get that information is wrong."

Bergdahl pleaded guilty October 16 to desertion and "misbehavior before the enemy" and could face life in prison. The presiding judge, Army Col. Jeffery Nance, is likely to announce the sentence next week.

Russell called on the court to give Bergdahl a lighter sentence due to several factors. One was the hardships that Bergdahl suffered during his imprisonment in Pakistan. The other was Bergdahl's firsthand descriptions, post-rescue, of his captors' tactics, methods of detainment, and other information.

Russell said that intelligence agencies and military strategists used what Bergdahl shared to improve their combat planning and that more military leaders might do the same if Bergdahl was free to share it with them. Individual soldiers could additionally benefit from Bergdahl's personal advice on how to evade capture and escape from capture, he added.



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