A journalist who served with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan dismissed Thursday the theory that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl may have been pushed over the edge by fighting Islamic totalitarian guerrillas.
“So what was it about the war that particularly threw him off? What was it about battle, what was it about combat that disillusioned him so?” PBS NewsHour anchorwoman Gwen Ifill asked Matt Farwell, a contributor to the late Michael Hastings’s 2012 Rolling Stone story on Bergdahl.
“I don’t think it was necessarily battle or combat, and I don’t know for a fact,” Farwell, who served with the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment in Paktika province in 2006 and 2007, replied. “But I know I was in the exact same area two years prior, as an infantryman. And battle and combat’s actually fun. But the war in Afghanistan was a massive — we would call it a Charlie Foxtrot, if I’m being polite. It was a massive cluster. And we didn’t know what we were doing there, and we still don’t. And that’s why we’re getting out and it’s been the longest war in U.S. history.”
Ifill then fished for service-wide outbreaks of Bergdahl’s alleged state of being “psychologically isolated.” But Farwell noted that unit cohesion is variable and — citing the case of multiple murderer Robert Bales — that soldiers are also variable.
“I can’t necessarily make a case for anyone but myself,” Farwell said, “I had a good time with my platoon mates, and I love them all like brothers.”
The Rolling Stone article depicted Bergdahl, who was released by his Sunni captors last week in exchange for five Guantanamo detainees believed to be valuable Taliban officials, as a committed but unsocial soldier prior to his 2009 disappearance from a base in Paktika.