Pete the Banker: Pentagon brass obscure KIAs in Bergdahl search

June 9, 2014


How many soldiers died looking for apparent deserter Bowe Bergdahl? The Pentagon does more to obscure than clarify.

The headline read:

2 soldiers died while Bergdahl search underway, but not while on patrol, Pentagon finds

Something about this article didn’t sit well with me initially. Perhaps it is my cynicism, perhaps my instinct which questions the Pentagon’s cursory response. More likely based upon my own military experience, I implicitly trust facts from the troops on the ground and those closest to the situation more than that from those occupying desks at the higher echelons, far from the battlefield. Facts that haven’t seemed to change in the face of the constant ebb and flow of political fancy or the latest editorial whim.

Photos from New York Daily News

The Pentagon release, “Pentagon officials probing claims that eight soldiers died while looking for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have confirmed two troops from his unit died while the search was underway, but not while they while they were on patrol, a senior defense official told Fox News Friday.”

I obviously am criticizing from afar and my military service is far behind me now, but the Pentagon I suspect is being disingenuous at best. First, any search likely wouldn’t have been limited to Bergdahl’s immediate unit. Second they are stating it obliquely, not including key details/assumptions of their probe including the time frame over which the original search was conducted, the territory (provinces) involved in the search, or detailing the number of military units involved. And finally the actual casualty numbers just don’t support the Pentagon’s (and Administration’s) rather self serving assertion.

Much of what we know continues to come from those closest to the action in Bergdahl’s unit. Much of what remains unknown rests with the Pentagon and the Administration itself. The persistence of the unknown from official sources likely provides them future flexibility in creating story lines or the latest spin. So much for independent research.

A rather quick and cursory bit of research (limited to only the Paktika Province in which Bergdahl’s unit was located) shows 11 combat casualties in the 10 weeks following his disappearance on June 30, 2009. That compares with a total number of fatal casualties for the year of 16 in Paktiki Province. So now tell me why all these casualties were concentrated in this Province over such a short period following his disappearance? One suspects the summer season in a mountainous area accounts for some of the concentration, but one’s intuition dismisses the assertion that 68% of the annual casualties can be explained by weather only. (Casualties list, Afghanistan; See pages 42-43-44-45 for dates 6-14-2009 to 9/14/2009;)

For example, specific details provided by former platoon members asserted, “Lt. Darryn Andrews, 34, and Pfc. Michael Martinek, 20, were among at least six soldiers killed during such missions. For saving the lives of three of his troops during an ambush on Sep. 4, 2009, Lt. Andrews was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.” ¬†Their deaths are memorialized in the above casualty list, attesting to accuracy of those on location and belying the Pentagon probe.

The Pentagon’s issuance of rather tepid and useless statement seems intent on obfuscating, rather than clarifying the events surrounding Bergdahl’s disappearance. Bergdahl’s peers have alone been open about the extent of losses surrounding the recovery effort. Given the concentration of fatal combat casualties in the Paktaki Province in the two and a half months after the Bergdahl disappearance seems to overwhelming support their assertions. A thorough and independent research of the recovery operation and losses sustained from it are absolutely necessary to provide accuracy and transparency, apparently missing commodities in Wash DC these days.


Search parameters/results: July 2009 – three casualties; August and first half of September – 8 casualties; Start date July 1 and end date 9-11 with Martinek’s death, all in Paktika Province. (So why is the Pentagon dismissing based upon only 2 cases?)

FYI in 2008, over roughly the same period, Paktika Province recorded 2 deaths of an annual total of 20 deaths. Four additional combat deaths occurred on 9-17-2008 in Paktika. But even including those the deaths of those individuals that accounts for only a 30% annual casualty rate in a roughly comparable period.

Pete the Banker is a Veteran, banker and good citizen. He is a member of the Blogforce.