Military Denies Foot-Dragging on POW Release

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

The Defense Department pushed back Thursday against allegations that bureaucratic infighting was hampering the effort to find and bring home captured Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

"These allegations are completely false" and a disservice to the efforts of several federal agencies to gain the release of the 28-year-old Bergdahl, who went missing in Afghanistan in June 2009, said Army Col. Steve Warren.

"There should be no doubt that we're working hard every day" to secure Bergdahl's release, Warren said.

Warren was reacting to an Associated Press article that said the effort to free Bergdahl "suffers from disorganization and poor communication among numerous federal agencies involved, leaving his captors unclear which U.S. officials have the authority to make a deal."

The article cited a defense official and a military officer, who spoke on grounds of anonymity, as saying that Bergdahl's captors were anxious to release him but mistrust on both sides was hampering a deal.

The U.S. Central Command took issue with comments by the anonymous defense official alleging that the office of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Central Command haggled over who should tell the Bergdahl family of a "proof of life" video released by his captors last December.

The allegations "are completely false and mischaracterize the ongoing close coordination and teamwork between U.S. Central Command, the Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies," the Central Command said in a statement.

Idaho National Guard Col. Tim Marsano, who has been serving as a liaison to the Bergdahl family in Idaho, spoke to the parents about the AP article and they had no comment, the Central Command statement said.

Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was believed to be held by the Haqqani terrorist network, which operates in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border.

When he was captured, Bergdahl was serving with the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at richard.sisk@monster.com

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