- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2014

A classified Pentagon report on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s dissappearance in Afghanistan outlined how the soldier had wandered away from his unit on two occasions — once during training in California and once from an outpost in Afghanistan — prior to going missing in June 2009.

The roughly 35-page report concluded that Sgt. Bergdahl had most likely walked away from his unit at his own volition when he disappeared for a third and final time, according The New York Times, which first reported on the finding Thursday, citing anonymous sources familiar with the military document.

The report also criticized lax security practices and poor discipline within Sgt. Bergdahl’s unit, the 1st Battallion of the Army’s 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, but stops short of concluding that that the soldier fully intended to desert the unit permanently.

Sources who spoke with The Washington Times on Monday said that officials with the U.S. military’s special forces community who were tasked with attempting to find Sgt. Bergdhal, had privately concluded years ago that he was a deserted and had only been captured by the Taliban after willingly wandering away from a remote outpost in Afghanistan.

And, an report by The Associated Press on Monday quoted Nabi Jan Mhullhakhil, the provincial police chief of Paktika province in Afghanistan, where Sgt. Bergdahl had been stationed with his unit as saying that elders in the area had said the soldier “came out from the U.S. base without a gun and was outside the base when he was arrested by the Taliban.”

Speculation around the question of whether Sgt. Bergdahl fully intended to desert his unit, or merely sought to go on a dangerous and unauthorized wander through the night in Afghanistan, has been rampant in the U.S. media during recent days.

Military Times first reported on Wednesday that Sgt. Bergdahl had intentionally sneaked away from his forward operating base in Afghanistan just before he disappeared in 2009, and that may not have been the first time he left the post without permission, according to officials familiar with the military’s internal investigation.

“We have no indication that he intended to leave permanently,” one government official familiar with the probe told Military Times. Several soldiers in Bergdahl’s unit told investigators that Bergdahl had previously talked about a desire to leave the base unaccompanied and may have done so and returned unharmed at least once before the night he disappeared, the official said.

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