While Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl recovers at a military hospital in Germany after being held captive by the Taliban for 5 years, new video emerged Wednesday showing the dramatic moment he was released to U.S. special forces.
The 17-minute video, released by the Afghan Taliban, shows Bergdahl clean-shaven and dressed in white traditional Afghan dress on a mountainside in eastern Khost province on Saturday. One of the Taliban members can be heard telling Bergdahl in Pashto, “Don’t come back to Afghanistan. You won’t make it out alive next time,” according to a translation by the Associated Press. Several of the men are heard laughing.
A Pentagon spokesman told AP there was no reason to doubt the authenticity of the video. “Regardless, we know the transfer was peaceful and successful, and our focus remains on getting Sgt. Bergdahl the care he needs,” Rear Adm. John Kirby said Wednesday.
Once aboard the Blackhawk helicopter, U.S. military officials said Bergdahl wrote on a piece of paper “SF?” – meaning special forces. When the American troops on board yelled out “Yes!” Bergdahl broke down in tears. Bergdahl remains at Landstuhl Military Medical Center in Germany, where he is recovering. U.S. military officials are planning to question him about what happened the night he was captured after reportedly walking off his base in Afghanistan in 2009.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called Bergdahl’s family Wednesday night, a senior defense official told Defense One. The call lasted about 10 minutes. The official said Hagel reassured Bergdahl’s parents that their son would continue to get the full support of the Defense Department regarding his medical care and reintegration.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno released a statement Wednesday saying that it’s a “high priority” to bring every soldier deployed to Afghanistan back home. “We will never leave a fallen comrade behind,” he said.
“Now that Sgt. Bergdahl is back and under our control, first and foremost we must ensure his health is taken care of and he is properly reintegrated,” Odierno said. “At the appropriate time, we will conduct a thorough, transparent and complete review of the circumstances surrounding his capture.”
Click here to watch the video.
Kevin Baron contributed to this report.