Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has asked a senior Defense Department official to oversee the Pentagon’s efforts to rescue an Army soldier from the clutches of an Islamist insurgent group affiliated with the Taliban.
Politico is reporting that Mr. Hagel has tapped Michael Lumpkin, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict, to facilitate the separate efforts that the Pentagon and State Department are making toward retrieving Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Mr. Lumpkin is also currently performing the duties of the under secretary of defense for policy.
The Defense Department did not immediately respond to The Times’ requests for confirmation of Mr. Lumpkin’s new assignment.
Mr. Hagel’s decision to appoint a man to streamline the Pentagon’s attempts to retrieve Mr. Bergdahl comes just days after plans to free five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Mr. Bergdahl fell through. CNN reported Sunday that the Taliban suspended trade talks “due to the current complex political situation in the country.” Mr. Bergdahl is reportedly being held in Pakistan.
Last week, The Washington Times reported that Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Democrat, sent a letter to Mr. Hagel urging him to select someone to oversee attempts by the Pentagon and State Department to secure Mr. Bergdahl and bring him back to the United States. Mr. Hunter suggested that Mr. Hagel choose someone who could “effectively and seamlessly coordinate operational activities between government entities and facilitate communications at the highest level.”