Monday, July 20, 2009

Pentagon Discusses Missing-Captured Soldier in Afghanistan

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2009 -- Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said American commanders are “sparing no effort” to locate a U.S. soldier who went missing early this month in Afghanistan.

Speaking to reporters today during a Pentagon news conference, Gates also expressed his disgust at the exploitation of Army Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, who the Defense Department identified as the missing soldier and who is featured in a video apparently released yesterday on the Internet by his captors.

“Our commanders are sparing no effort to find this young soldier, and I also would say that my personal reaction was one of disgust at the exploitation of this young man,” Gates said.

In a news release yesterday, the Defense Department identified Bergdahl as the 23-year-old Army private from Ketchum, Idaho, listed as “missing-captured” on July 3 while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Bergdahl is a member of 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, from Fort Richardson, Alaska.

Appearing alongside Gates today was Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who denounced the situation in similar terms.

“I deplore the exploitation of this young man,” Mullen said.

On a visit to Afghanistan last week, the chairman said he spent time with forces conducting operations to find Bergdahl.

“They are extensive, vast; they’re on it 24-7,” Mullen said. “We’re doing absolutely everything we can to get him back.”

Mullen declined to discuss whether intelligence had been gleaned from the 28-minute video.

(Report by John J. Kruzel, American Forces Press Service.)

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