Freed soldier Bowe Bergdahl featured in podcast

Former U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who left his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured by Taliban fighters and later freed in a prisoner swap, is heard from publicly for the first time in a podcast released Thursday.


Bergdahl, 25, who was returned to the United States in 2014, was charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, a charge that carries up to life in prison.

The podcast 'Serial,' featured excerpts Thursday from interviews filmmaker Mark Boal conducted with Bergdahl soon after his release.

Boal and Bergdahl gave 'Serial' permission to use 25 hours of recorded phone calls for season two of the podcast.

"All I was seeing was basically leadership failure to the point that the lives of the guys standing next to me were literally in danger of something seriously going wrong and somebody being killed," said Bergdahl when asked why he left his platoon.

The private first class said he had serious concerns over bad leadership over his unit.

"You know what DUSTWUN is? It is the radio signal that is put out over the radio when a soldier goes missing in a combat field or when a soldier is taken captive," said Bergdahl. "I was trying to find a solution to the problem."

By creating a DUSTWUN, Bergdahl said he would draw attention from military leadership and eventually be able to tell his story and share his concerns.

"As a private first class, no one is going to listen to me if I say this person needs to be psychologically evaluated," said Bergdahl.

"I was trying to prove to the world that I was capable of being that person... capable of being what I appeared to be. Doing what I did was me saying I am like, I don't know, Jason Bourne. I had this fantastic idea that I was going to prove to the world ... that I was that," said Bergdahl.

Earlier this year, Army Lt. Col. Mark Visger recommended that Bergdahl's case be referred to a special court martial, which is a misdemeanor-level forum. It limits the maximum punishment to reduction in rank, a bad-conduct discharge and a term of up to a year in prison.

Visger, who presided over a hearing in Texas in September, recommended that there be no prison time or punitive discharge against Bergdahl.

Gen. Robert Abrams, the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, will ultimately decide whether the case should be referred to a court-martial. No timeline has been given for a decision from Abrams.

With the Associated Press