A Pentagon official has come forward saying that the death toll from one of the bloodiest battles in Afghanistan was so high in part because forces were spread out searching for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
The official spoke to MailOnline yesterday about the October 3, 2009 Battle of Kamdesh that killed eight American soldiers and wounded 22 more. The battle took place at Combat Outpost Keating (COP Keating).
“The COP Keating battle was so deadly because International Security Assistance Force numbers were so low,” the official said. “And that was because so many U.S. troops were off searching for Bergdahl.”
A 2010 Pentagon investigation found that Bergdahl went missing after he willingly left his platoon.
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The Department of Defense official said it’s “highly likely” that fewer American troops would have died if forces in the region hadn’t been so spread out looking for Bergdahl.
“It's beyond a doubt that we could have held COP Keating and inflicted even greater enemy casualties if we had had the air support we needed there, but the Bergdahl hunt spread everyone really thin,” the official said. “It’s also highly likely that the loss of life on the U.S. side would have been far less.”
A member of Bergdahl’s platoon, Sgt. Gerald Sutton, also spoke with MailOnline about the amount of resources in the region that were dedicated to finding Bergdahl.
“I felt like I was in immediate danger all the time' after Bergdahl left,” Sutton said. “All of us did. We were sent out for about 30 to 35 days straight looking for him. And there were plenty of other people. I mean, the complete 501st [Infantry Regiment] was pulled out of there to search. People lost resources…
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“Those guys didn't have the complete support they needed at the time,” he concluded, “because all the assets and everything were diverted to us.”
In the wake of Bergdahl’s release, many around the country seem to have the opinion that the U.S. gave up too much to rescue a soldier who deserted his unit on his own accord. The Pentagon official that spoke with MailOnline shares those sentiments.
“It's simple,” he said. “We lost eight good soldiers because someone wanted to go look for a single rotten one.”