Response to Episode 11 of Serial 2

From Episode 1 to Episode 11 of Serial 2, there was a lot to learn about Bowe Bergdahl. There’s a lot of details that have been revealed about Bergdahl and the men he was working under and with. There were various sides to the story and different beliefs and opinions involved. There were families involved in the chaos of the search for Bergdahl, which is something that I hadn’t thought about prior to the podcast.

Bergdahl caused the DUSTWUN to get the attention of the leaders in the military, the superiors to his superiors. In one of the episodes, this was defended; Bergdahl and his platoon were on a mission, stuck for a long time, and upon returning, their superior only cared about their appearance. He didn’t care if they lost any men or if anyone was injured—he didn’t care about the well-being of the platoon he was put in charge of leading. By doing so, he put his men in greater danger. Perhaps, in more grave danger than what Bergdahl had done with his DUSTWUN. Although all of the platoons had to search for him, putting their lives in danger, it was an indirect effect of Bergdahl’s leaving of his station. His superior’s lack of good leadership was a direct cause of Bergdahl’s leaving of his platoon, which could mean he is the reason so many men died in searching for Bergdahl, because he was the reason Bergdahl left his post. Bergdahl felt lie he had no other option, so he left his post.

Bergdah;’s proof of life video doesn’t change the way I think about his case. What I don’t understand is why he told them so much about the military, about what they were doing overseas, but I don’t know what was scripted. Many of the answers, like Obama’s intentions in Afghanistan, can’t really be answered by Bergdahl, but it makes sense that he gave them an answer, told them what they wanted to hear. He may have believed that being over there was a waste, but it probably helped him that he said it to them. In the video, Bergdahl doesn’t say he left his post. He said he was “lagging behind a patrol,” which everyone within the military who were searching for him knew it was a lie. The typical citizens who saw the video, however, don’t know that it was a lie. He also most likely had to say it until he got the opportunity to speak with superiors and tell them what really happened; in admitting to leaving his post, it would have been incriminating himself, and he probably anticipated that they wouldn’t want to search for him if they knew the truth. There are a lot of probabilities, but Bergdahl seemed to be a smart man, according to his platoon he was a unique and excellent soldier. In his video, he even mentioned that you can’t judge something before you understand it; he was speaking of Islam, but I think the same could go for Bergdahl. I stand with my belief that no one should judge him unless they understand him. Although his actions put his fellow men at risk, in his mind, he was looking out for his and their best interests.

According to one of the men Bergdahl was with in the Coast Guard when he had his “panic attack,” he couldn’t believe Bergdahl was allowed in the Army, a much more dangerous branch of the military. He couldn’t handle the Coast Guard, so why the Army? But Bergdahl wanted to fight on land. If there’s anything that Bergdahl’s case has solidified, it’s that the Army needs to thoroughly screen their men and acknowledge everything—no part of their medical history or examination should be overridden. Everything should be in consideration, because if something were to go wrong, it’s on the Army. If Bergdahl had been thoroughly looked into, he may not have been in Afghanistan in the first place, and the DUSTWUN would never have been called into effect.

The search for Bergdahl was attached to many missions overseas. People died and were injured, but I don’t think that should be put on Bergdahl. When it comes down to it, there were other ways in which he could have reached out to higher superiors, but it makes sense that he didn’t feel like they would listen. Why would they have taken his word over his superior’s? For that, I empathize with Bergdahl. At the end of the day, he was still taken by the very enemy they were sent there to defeat, so maybe Bergdahl’s capture could have benefited that by leading them to the Taliban. The whole story has so many positive and negative possibilities. Although there’s so much made known through the Serial 2 podcast, there still could be more that could be understood. Because of that, my views on Bergdahl’s case haven’t changed, because his side of the story hadn’t changed. It caused a lot of issues, but I can understand where he was coming from. He did end up being a prisoner of war for his actions, and I think that was paying the price for leaving his post. Any other punishment would simply be unjust, because he still is a U.S. soldier, doing his best to not only protect the country but to look out for his fellow men who were doing so.

Response to Episode 10 of Serial 2

National and international politics greatly influenced Bergdahl’s case. The Taliban didn’t want peace talks, Pakistan wanted peace talks but continued to stay out of the situation, and the United States sat with their hands tied, not signing anything or talking peace with anyone. There were various other situations going on with Afghanistan, too, at the time Bergdahl’s case became relevant when it was announced he was going to return home after spending five years in captivity by the Taliban. There were many factors, political gains, to Bergdahl’s release, in exchange for prisoners from Guantanamo. Three of the men in Gitmo were released, but one had died while exercising. This is an important international relations step, and it brings up so many questions as to what the United States is willing to risk on one man.

The United States wouldn’t give some prisoners amnesty, refusing to give amnesty to and negotiating with terrorists, like the Taliban. The United States is known for searching for and finding their men, not dealing with terrorists. This makes the prisoner exchange for Bergdahl incredibly unique and extremely unusual. The United States doesn’t want to be known for working with terrorists, for giving them easy ways out, so they usually didn’t. Why this man? Why this soldier that had abandoned his stationed position in Afghanistan? Peace talks and negotiations were already impossible; the Taliban were told not to call their office “Islamic Emirates,” but they did anyway with a sign and a flag. The flag was removed immediately and the sign was taken down later the next day because a U.S. personnel went in to ensure it was taken down. This destroyed all the previous talks. If they couldn’t even follow an agreement to name an office, why would they follow through on an exchange mission? And after being disrespected in such a way, why would the United States agree to exchange their prisoners? It just doesn’t make any sense.

At the time of the sign ordeal, Bergdahl had been held captive for four years. When negotiations stopped, Bergdahl still had that following year in captivity before the government would finally agree to a trade with the Taliban. For three of their men, the United States only received Bergdahl back. It seems like a heavy price to pay, extraordinary measures that sound borderline insane. It got to a point where the Taliban simply said an exchange would be fine, still refusing peace talks, when the United States was ready. The United States was about to start withdrawing troops, so their window of opportunity to get Bergdahl back was withering. The United States’s hands were tied, but it doesn’t make sense why a man that left his post, a man that was disliked by so many U.S. military personnel, would be worthy of an exchange of that magnitude, or even an exchange at all.

What is interesting is that Bergdahl was seen as a soldier with “honor and distinction,” according to the White House administration, but everyone else thought it wasn’t right to speak so highly of him. The United States didn’t want to leave a man behind, so maybe that made it easier for them to decide that they wanted to make an exchange deal with the Taliban; at the end of the day, he was an American soldier who they didn’t want to die in captivity…but it seems like an unfair exchange: the Taliban was getting weary with Bergdahl’s captivity. Predient Obama had wanted to close Guantanamo, but it wasn’t as serious as the Taliban growing tired of holding their prisoner captive. Had they waited and not made the deal, perhaps the Taliban would have just let Bergdahl go. Of course, after five years, they probably would have killed him. Maybe the deal, although as insane as it seems, was a fair move after all.

Response to Episode 9 of Serial 2

The notion of sovereignty made Bowe Bergdahl’s recovery very difficult. In prior episodes, it was stated that if Bergdahl were in Pakistan, there would be nothing the US forces could do. Sovereignty of states and among their organizations made everything much more complicated. Sovereignty can mean a few important aspects: it can be the supreme power or authority of a place, the authority of a state to govern itself or another state, or a self-governing state. Those three things can easily intertwine, and they make various situations in international relations difficult. In Bergdahl’s case, it made the case much more complex than it needed to be.

In the aspect of supreme power, that is complicated enough. In Bergdahl’s situation, the US government was involved as well as the United States Army, which was a great authority overseas. The next governments in play are the Afghani government and the surrounding governments. In this case, perhaps the most important sovereignty is the Taliban. They had gains they wanted to accomplish and the United States had a goal as well. The organization within the state was almost more powerful than the government, threatening citizens if they didn’t help them or keep their mouths shut when it came to talking to the Army. In this very podcast, one man couldn’t even be identified due to fear, and he was in the Taliban. This shows how drastic and vital sovereignty is as an authority.

The Taliban could be considered sovereign because it governed many areas in Afghanistan. In fact, it governed not just in Afghanistan but also in surrounding Arab states. This is important to note, because it had a vast chain of command through much of the Middle East that would have made the negotiation to release Bergdahl all the more difficult to accomplish. The people were in fear, as were many of the people within the Taliban, which shows just how powerful they were. Although the United States isn’t known for negotiating with terrorists, it did negotiate with the Taliban, even giving them back some of their men that they requested in a trade-off for Bergdahl. This, of course, is the vital part of the mission to retrieve Bergdahl from the Taliban. This could be condiered sovereign by way of legal equality, but it wasn’t necessarily equal. The Taliban got multiple men back while the United States just got back Bergdahl, whom many thought was a backstabber, a “deserter.” But in order to save their man, they had to make a deal; it was Bergdahl’s only hope.

The aspect of self-governing states is the most intriguing, because the state of Afghanistan wasn’t greatly ruled by the government, but by terrorist groups such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The United States, however, was a self-governing state that negotiated with various different Taliban leaders to come to an understanding, to come up with a negotiation, to come up with a plan. If the United States had more divisions, the whole situation and its aid would probably have been decimated. The self-governing of the United States helped to keep the negotiations with the Taliban on track.

The notion of sovereignty is a great factor of Bergdahl’s rescue. Without the actions of the states and organizations within the states, the deal to trade Bergdahl with terrorists would never have occurred. It didn’t help them reach common ground, but it did bring them to the table to discuss the issue at hand and what they needed to do or could do to resolve the situation. As it was presented multiple times in Episode Nine of Serial Two, the Taliban was growing weary; they were tired of holding Bergdahl captive. Not only did they want their men back, but they wanted Bowe off their hands. If they hadn’t gotten tired of holding him captive after so long, Bergdahl may never have been rescued, because their leniency made the whole negotiation talks possible.

Response to Episodes 7 & 8 of Serial 2

From listening to Episodes 7 & 8 of Serial Two, many aspects of Bowe Bergdahl’s past come to light. There are many factors that led to Bergdahl’s decision to join the Army. Perhaps, they weren’t for the best reasons, but he did have his reasons. The fact that his past was not regarded in its entirety is something that the Army should be faulted for, something they need to correct.

The way it seems is that Bergdahl had a breakdown, a panic attack during his little time in the Coast Guard. Bergdahl claims he faked it, that he didn’t feel like the Coast Guard was right for him. Of course, that’s Bergdah;’s words against everyone else’s—even against professionals in the psychology field. Granted, if we don’t believe Bergdahl about his mental health, his actions in the Coast Guard, why would we, as listeners, listen to anything or believe anything he said? There would be no reason to. If the story has gone this far and Bergdahl has done some cray things, but we listen anyway, why would faking a panic attack seem so unbelievable? This soldier left his station, risking his life to protect his men, and we’re supposed to believe that the same man gave up and had a panic attack over an apparent nose bleed? That doesn’t make sense.

That being said, it was documented that Bergdahl had mental health issues. Clearly, he does after various reports. But does that make him incompetent? Does that mean he shouldn’t have been accepted into the Army? Maybe. Bergdahl’s friend Kayla said that he was a gentleman, that she thought the Coast Guard would be good for him, not war, but helping people. After his experience in the Coast Guard, Bergdahl mentioned not feeling like it was the right fit for him, that he felt that joining the Army would be good for him’; it was where he belonged. Based on previous episodes, it is evident that Bergdahl at least somewhat belonged in the Army. His platoon members said that he was essentially the posterchild for soldiers, that he was the best and always read every guideline and handbook. He knew more than most of the men in his platoon, maybe he knew more than his superiors. The will and want to join the Army to prove himself is what makes Bergdahl’s decision to join the Army valid and fit for service.

The U.S. Military should have more than a will and want to serve as a guideline for entering the Army. The system pushed Bergdahl through, waiving particular records with Bergdahl asking for them to be overlooked, to not be judged by his past, and he wasn’t. Bergdahl, like many other soldiers, had a mental health issue—that would most likely worsen after his mission overseas. A great deal of soldiers come home and they aren’t the same as when they left; they have many mental health issues, which they develop overseas. Maybe Bergdahl wasn’t too far off. The guidelines for entry into the military need to be more thorough. They need to take everything into account, even the past that Bergdahl wanted to be kept unjudged. Even though it was the Coast Guard, his actions still should have been taken into account, because it was still part of the armed forces. When Bergdahl’s friend Kayla heard he was in the Army, she freaked out, because she didn’t think he was strong enough to endure the Coast Guard, let alone a branch more dangerous like the Army. A man’s character should also be taken into account before he’s accepted into the Army; they should be put in high stress situations and observed, judged on their reactions. Anyone can shoot a gun, but it takes more than that to keep a proper mindset, to not go crazy. Of course, Bergdahl’s case was a special one considering he left his post and was captured by the Taliban, but it may have been different if his documents were thoroughly read. Codes were without a doubt violated when Bergdahl was recruited after the incident at the Coast Guard. The men in the armed forces focus so much on recruiting men, on getting all the men to fight that they can, that they don’t focus on the quality and well-being of the man who they’re giving a gun to and putting in harm’s way.

Based off everything said in the episodes, Bergdahl definitely had a place in the Army. The question is: was putting him on an overseas mission really in the best interest of not only Bergdahl and his men, but the Army as a whole? Maybe not. . .

Response to Episode 6 of Serial 2

Serial would be nothing without its sources. The correspondents have used both primary and secondary sources. They used so many sources, it is difficult to go back and see which type of source they used more—but that doesn’t matter. They are both vital to the telling of Bowe Bergdahl’s story. There are various aspects, but they all come together through different perspectives of the situation, and some of them differ to make the plot of Bergdahl’s story seem unreal or untruthful.

The secondary sources are important because they show the opinions formed on Bergdahl. The news sources show what media wants the people of the world, of the United States, to know. Certain aspects were released, like the overall story of Bergdahl leaving his post and being captured by the Taliban. Another secondary source that was greatly used were interviews that weren’t directly the correspondents’; they are important because they show what Bergdahl or a superior may have said and they can either conflict or fit what Bergdahl told the correspondents of Serial. While listening to Serial, many articles about the area and the situation are on the podcast’s website. These help to make the situation more understandable, more concrete. . . but they also show very one-sided aspects. Opinions on Bergdahl’s capture had already been made.

Despite having the secondary sources, as good as they may be, they’re not as valuable as the primary sources: documents, statements, and the people involved. The people involved are the most important part of the podcast. For starters, correspondents interviewed people from Bergdahl’s journey, which can show that Bergdahl was telling the truth. In a prior episode, an interview contradicted something that was previously thought to be true in the podcast, a man who had seen Bergdahl during his Dustwan escape.

But the interviews don’t just discuss what did or didn’t happen. They show what the situation was really like. Platoon members of Bergdahl were interviewed to show what was really going on in the situation. The men also helped to shape Bergdahl’s character. Unlike the secondary sources, these men lived with Bergdahl; they knew him and his mannerisms. They knew he used a pipe instead of a cigarette, because he didn’t like smoking. They knew how smart and different Bergdahl was, how in depth he read the handbooks and that he was great at physical training; he was the ideal soldier—something the media wouldn’t dare get close to admitting. Even though some of the men ended up disliking Bergdahl for “betraying” them by leaving his post, they were willing to meet with the correspondents of Serial to share their take on the story, and many of them seem to fit with what Bergdhal had said, what Bergdahl had claimed his reasons for leaving were—there was an issue with superiors. This was vital, especially on the mission when they went to rescue a wrecked automobile and got trapped, dealing with fire and explosions while trying to get their machinery back to their area, out of enemy hands. This whole situation is so in depth and detailed; it’s war, and it is important to not just see the media’s side or just Bergdahl’s side. Lt. Col. Clint Baker was waiting for the platoon to return from that fiery, life-threatening mission, and his reaction wasn’t a welcomed one. He was too worried about their appearance than if all the men lived or not, not caring that they were put in high danger stakes. That didn’t matter to him, but it mattered to Bergdahl. In various interviews, he mentions how he didn’t ask about his men, and how wrong he thought it was that the interests of the men weren’t being considered. The others didn’t mention that, but they did mention the foul conditions. They also interviewed some of the superiors to get the full picture.

The approach of the reporters make the various aspects more compelling by asking personal, specific questions. They talk to so many people involved in the story; the reports are passionate about finding out the whole story, and reporting what they discovered. The reporters would even lie to the people they were interviewing to try and see what information they could get.

From Serial, it is evident that sources are everything. Without sources, primary or secondary, the story can’t be complete, and if it is, it won’t be as detailed as it potentially could be. To get answers to such a deep, controversial issue, the research had to be thorough and the reporters had to talk to everyone they could. Research, thorough research, is vital for a story like Bergdahl’s. Getting one answer to a question, one perspective, simply isn’t enough.

Response to Episode 5 of Serial 2

From Episode 5 of Serial Two, it seems as though the only US associated agency truly involved with Bowe’s capture is the FBI, and barely even then. The overview of the carious agencies and departments mentioned in the episode indicate that the US government and its response mechanisms are incredibly slow acting, and really indifferent to any outside help. It seems like, especially in Bowe’s situation, the military is really in charge. When Bowe’s friend tried to report him missing from the domestic side in the US, the military didn’t approve the proper authorization they needed to finalize steps. The government and its military are very hush-hush; details are only revealed on a need-to-know basis, even if the person wanting to find out information was the one who helped them get that far, as like what happened when another one of Bowe’s friends gave them a source who was willing to provide them with crucial information on where the Taliban was taking Bowe. Without the informer she gave them, they wouldn’t have been able to email and negotiate with such a source, and although it fell through the cracks in the end, it seemed to get them farther than they were before the friend stepped forward, seeking a translation of the call.

Even though Bowe’s friends opened their own investigations and got some vital information for the FBI, friends and family starting their own investigations or reaching out to the captors can be, and is, quite dangerous. Bowe’s father sending the Taliban a video trying to save his son was very bold, but also very risky. It is to be admired, but it shouldn’t have been done. Bowe’s father should have left it up to the government, even if they weren’t trying their all. The families of captives, like Bowe’s family, shouldn’t have a right to negotiate with captors, because they aren’t professionals. It could irritate the captors even more and make them even less likely to release their captive. They shouldn’t be able to pay ransoms. If a terrorist group wants a ransom, it would probably be pretty high—not enough that a typical family could pay, so what happens when the family trying to negotiate with the captors has to pay a ransom that they can’t afford? It could all just make situations much worse. There can’t really be a penalty for negotiating with captors; the family has been going through enough. That being said, isn’t their involvement interfering with a search, an investigation? In the United States, that’s considered to be illegal. By sending a message to captors or terrorist groups is dangerous—it puts both the captive and the family of the captive at more risk. It could tip the captor or terrorist group off even more, and that clearly isn’t the goal.

Friends and families investigating or sending messages to the captors should not be a crime. As previously stated, the family has gone through enough. They probably aren’t thinking clearly, and the only thing on their mind is getting their loved one home. It shouldn’t be a crime, but it should be heavily warned against. In so many police shows, when someone is kidnapped, the family of the captive almost always seems to try and get in contact with the captor or vice versa and they try to handle it on their own because they think the police aren’t doing their jobs.  Granted, Bowe’s situation is much more serious because he was captured by a major terrorist organization. Even though the captors (at large) aren’t a close threat in relation to the friends and family, it is still risky, because they don’t necessarily know what the captors are capable of, and they don’t know how close they may be to either killing or setting free their loved one, which makes the whole situation all the more risky.

Friends and family reaching out to captors seems a bit crazy, but it also makes sense. When they feel like the government isn’t doing their job, it may seem easy to take matters into their own hands; it may seem like the best idea. It’s difficult to judge the situation when one isn’t in it. From the previous episodes of Serial Two, it is obvious that the people searching for Bowe weren’t giving their all because they felt betrayed. Did Bowe’s family know this? Maybe that was their reasoning for trying to get in touch with the Taliban and starting their own investigations. That part of the story, however, isn’t clear. No matter their motivations, they did start investigations and reach out to the Taliban via a video message. From the episode, it doesn’t seem like anything negative came from any of it, which was extremely lucky for the friends and family.


Response to Episode 4 of Serial 2

In the fourth episode of Serial 2, many aspects of the Taliban came to surface. One of the things I learned was that they had alliances with various names, such as the Haqqanis. I also knew that they used Toyota vehicles, but I didn’t know how much other items they used, and that they more or less had their own little cities. Another aspect that was a little surprising was that the Taliban paid people to store prisoners in their houses; it makes sense that they would keep them in houses, but it doesn’t make sense to me that people with such power would use anything other than force to get the citizens to do what they wanted.

The interesting part about the Haqqanis is that the Pakistani army knew who they were at the checkpoints and they didn’t have to get out of their car. They weren’t searched, and they were feared. It’s interesting that it was just a known thing, that they could identify who was what. They’re a family run group, so they might be known by the Pakistani army. Even though they’re Afghani, they’re headquartered in Pakistan, which is extremely interesting, but it might be because they knew the U.S. couldn’t get in the country without major issues ensuing. The way they were positioned, they could protect Pakistan, and Afghanistan from India’s influence, which they were against.

One of the captives named David Rohde was interviewed for Serial 2. He mentioned hoe the captors gave him Dasani and a newspaper, even though it was Pakistani, it was still something that was done for him as an American, something he recognized as an American. This is interesting, because the captors are supposed to be treating their prisoners terribly, and they did, but they could have given them water. Perhaps it was a religious belief, so they gave him good, clean water. They saw him as unclean because he was sick and not Muslim. Later in the story, they were concerned that he wasn’t eating, even though they thought he was dirty, but an old man brought him a spoon in case that’s what he needed. One of the men in particular gave him bread, because he believed that all men should be treated equally—he was an elder whose fellow men were young and great radicals. The change in the age of a culture truly played a role in how prisoners were treated. Radicals, who had ideas that don’t go hand-in-hand with what Muslims truly believe, were worse to prisoners, and older men were better to prisoners, because of the belief that all human beings should be treated the same, which is an interesting shift in the culture and mannerisms of the captors.

Rohde said that the Taliban paid people to use their houses. Often times, they used families and houses of men in Taliban leadership, but they also used the houses of people they felt as if they could trust. If anyone were to release or tell the searching soldiers where the prisoners were, I’m sure it would be disastrous for the family. Maybe paying them off was used with fear, something to secure their loyalty. The fact that they paid citizens to keep quiet and allow use of their homes for the prisoners is interesting, because it shows how severely they felt about having their captives. It makes sense that the soldiers couldn’t find Bergdahl, because if it wasn’t the rough terrain, he could have been hidden in a secret part of a household or the people simply didn’t give them access out of loyalty to the Taliban, yet maybe they had to do that in order to survive themselves.

No matter what the Taliban did—how they treated the men they held captive, how many divisions of members they had, or how many citizens they paid, they did it to torture the men, to ensure they would remain captive. The true citizens, the older citizens, relied on what they were taught, not treating them as if they were in Guantanamo, as one Taliban soldier had suggested. The treatment of the captives was poor and miserable; they tortured Bergdahl. This episode didn’t really influence my current understanding of the War on Terror, because treatment does vary and the beliefs of one soldier may be different than the next. At the end of the day, terrorism is terrorism, and the captives were fearing for their lives.

Response to Episode 3 of Serial 2

The two maps, Afghanistan, a Sense of Place and The Taliban’s Version of Events, are very helpful in trying to understand the situation and the special relationships associated with Bergdahl’s escapes. In the first couple of episodes, it seemed as though Bergdahl had a great distance to go in such short time. Now, according to these maps, places Bergdahl was taken seem relatively close to one another. It seems like it would be easy for Bergdahl to get away, but, in reality, it would probably be much more difficult than what it looks like on paper.

The regions are, obviously, close to one another. Bergdahl was only in one region of Afghanistan during his capture. He was taken to Pakistan as well, which would make it difficult for him to be rescued; it was territory thee U.S. could not enter. While he was in Afghanistan, he was in one region known as Regional Command East. Of that region, he was in a large portion of the southern region known as Paktika. He was mostly in the northwestern side of the region. He was taken through multiple places in the part of the region that were all extremely close to one another.  The only other couple times where he wasn’t in that region, he was taken directly across to Pakistan—yet he was only taken places close to the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan; he was never taken far into Pakistan.

The DUSTWAN called for all military forces to stop what they were doing and look for Bergdahl. In Episode Two of Serial, it was said that even soldiers looking for Bin Laden had to stop looking for him in order to look for Bergdahl. What I don’t understand is why it took so many men and women to find a man who was in such close proximity to OP Mest. In the scheme of things, OP Mest and FOB Sharana are relatively close together. It doesn’t make sense that they couldn’t find him. There must have been hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of platoons in the Middle East that were looking for Bergdahl, and the whole time he was right around the corner. Granted, there were villages and some difficult terrain, but it just doesn’t make sense to me why they couldn’t find him. The Taliban kept him moving, but he was in the same position, tied down for months. Did the soldiers give up? Did they think that he wasn’t worth it if he was the one who left his post and put everyone else in danger? Surely not. Surely they were following orders. . . unless the orders weren’t strictly being enforced. After all, the officials were getting irritated with Bergdahl and the search too—they were putting their men in danger for a soldier who willingly left his post, and happened to get picked up by the Taliban. As they probably thought, I can’t imagine that Bergdahl didn’t factor that into his plan when he was planning to leave OP Mest. Of course, the very men ordering his platoon were the very reason he left his post in the first place, according to Bergdahl.

No matter what the plan was, it is still incredibly amazing that the Taliban had him so hidden or the military wasn’t trying hard enough to find him, even though they put all of their forces into finding him. Something doesn’t add up, because he was only in a particular region, then taken to another small part of Pakistan. He was taken directly through where his journey began, and yet no one found him. If the locals saw anything, they didn’t say anything. It just doesn’t make sense that they couldn’t find him when he was in such close proximity to OP Mest and FOB Sharana. Maybe Bergdahl was right—maybe there was an issue with the superiors putting men in danger by not giving orders or fulfilling them to the best of their ability. Maybe Bergdahl did have reason to report his superiors, whether or not leaving his post was absolutely vital for his plan is unknown for now.

Response to Episode 2 of Serial 2

Wikileaks has come into the eye of the media very often in recent years, especially with the 2016 Election. But Wikileaks has always been quite scandalous, and important. Wikileaks is essentially an online database that releases exclusive, secret documents from anonymous sources. Many of these documents don’t appear in the daily news people see. This makes them controversial, and I would argue that it makes it vital to get the full image of a story. In the case of Bowe Bergdahl’s story, the Wikileaks war diary of the days Bergdahl went missing and was captured by the Taliban is vital. It gives the public a more filled-out image of what had happened, and I’m sure it was beneficial in his case, although that could have been done without it being posted on Wikileaks.

Wikileaks could be considered a form of cyber-organization. Millions of documents have been released on the platform. I don’t know if I completely agree with the mission of stealthy cyber-organization, but it does seem as though aspects of it are a good idea. For instance, if cyber-organization did not exist, and the military communications were not posted on Wikileaks, much of Bergdahl’s story would be unknown. It would be a case that resolved around one man’s story and another’s; there would never be a resolution to the case, and what truly happened may never have been known.

In Episode One of Serial Two, it was said that a whole hour passed before the soldiers’ superior took them seriously regarding the missing soldier. This Wikileaks report of the communications proves that to be the truth. At 0430z, it was reported that a soldier was missing. It took until 0535z for DUSTWAN to be called into effect. This proves that the story of the soldiers’ superior truly wasn’t working in the best interest of his men, as Bergdahl gave as the reason for his venturing out on his own.

To me, and I’m sure most other citizens of the U.S., the communications are difficult to read because of the military lingo. I’m not sure what a whole lot of this is saying. That being said, it is clear by the reports that the military did acknowledge that a soldier was captured and looked into the villages in an investigation, getting what he had been wearing and asking; a piece of it states that a soldier in dark clothing was asking for someone who spoke English, and it also shows the moment he was captured by showing what people had seen. The Serial report said he had a large cloth wrapped around his head, but the Wikileaks communication document said he had a bag over his head; little details like that could easily be confused, which could make some of the details of the communications of the people interviewed a bit unreliable, not necessarily completely wrong but not completely correct either.

One thing in the communication really caught my eye. It was even mentioned in the brief highlights presented on the Serial Podcast’s page: 1012z GUARDRAIL REPORTS PICKED UP LLVI TRAFFIC AT GRID VB 6597 3366 THAT STATES (UIM INDICATES THAT AN AMERICAN SOLDIER IS TALKING AND IS LOOKING FOR SOMEONE WHO SPEAKS ENGLISH. INDICATES AMERICAN SOLDIER HAS CAMERA. My big question is this: Why did Bergdahl have a camera? He did his best to fit in with the society, was trying to flee to another military base under the radar, so why did he have a camera? That doesn’t make sense to me. He wore his uniform underneath his Afghani garments, so did he wear the camera on the garments? Were the people scared and lying about what they saw? Who reported that he was wearing a camera? Bergdahl seems like a fairly smart man, although the way he decided to leave his post was a bit of a bravely idiotic move. I don’t understand why he would wear a camera while he was trying to move from his post. I don’t think he would have anticipated his capture, because he seems really distraught in some of the Serial Two clips. I know this seems like a lot of thought for one small detail, but it just doesn’t add up. I don’t understand why Bergdahl would have a camera if he was trying to keep under the radar, knowing that if he was caught, it could and would be used against him. If it weren’t for the Wikileaks report of the communications, this small detail that is such a head-scratcher would not be known.

By reading the full document, it is a bit easier to see why Bergdahl was not liked by his fellow soldiers. In Serial Two, Episode Two, it was reported that many soldiers wanted to kill him, and one man wanted to be on the Blackhawk when he got captured. Personally, like the reporter, I don’t agree with killing him. However, these soldiers had to forget about Bin Laden searches and get one-on-one with the Afghani people and the Taliban in order to find their fellow soldier—that could put so many of the armed forces in danger, including at least one of the booby traps that was in one of the locations where they were looking for Bergdahl, where dozens of men could have been killed. The frustration that Bergdahl caused could have all been prevented had he kept his post and made a formal report upon returning home.

Without the Wikileaks document, the situation would be much more black and white. Although it is a bit difficult to understand, it is important to look at the document and try to make sense of the situation. At the end of the first episode of Serial Two, I felt terribly for Bergdahl. Now, after listening to the second episode and looking at the document, I feel as though I’m still gravely trying to understand Bergdahl and his actions, and I can sympathize not only with him, but also with the soldiers who were desperately trying to find him.

Response to Episode 1 of Serial 2

Although it is just a start, Serial 2’s first episode reveals a lot about Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance from his platoon. There seems to be more to the story, obviously, but the episode answers the most important question: why did Bowe leave the platoon?

To start, the OP Mest picture from The Guardian looks tight, small, and dirty. It is in the middle of nowhere, so it must have been easy to spot. Anyone walking around or leaving the platoon could easily be seen, even in the typical tan and army green that was intended to blend in with surroundings. It was in the middle of the desert, so conditions couldn’t have been well. One of the other soldiers even said that it wasn’t livable and that the quality of life was “low,” that men were getting sick because it was not a clean environment by any means. The platoon looks as if it would be extremely simple to invade and easy to destroy. In the video, people were walking by. Considering that they treated it as a checkpoint, it would be easy for anyone to invade and mishaps to happen. It seems to be fairly stereotypical of what a platoon would look like.

From what has been revealed thus far, Bergdahl left his platoon because he felt as though the leadership that was leading his team was a failure, that the leadership was bad. He felt that it was putting his fellow soldiers at risk, and he had to do something. It was the last day at the platoon, and it was his last chance to get higher officials’ attention: set off a DUSTWUN, a radio signal that goes to all armed forces when someone disappears or is captured. He didn’t know how to formally complain about a superior, and be believed, so he felt like carrying out an extreme action was his only option. This decision seems pretty understandable. Crazy things happen in war, and he did leave his post, but he thought to do it in order to call cause to a more serious issue—an issue in leadership. In a stressful situation, such as war, and not knowing how to formally fix the leadership before more lives were lost, Bergdahl did what he thought was best. He did what he thought, and knew, would get officials’ attention. Granted, taking matters into his own hands in a country he wasn’t familiar with was greatly idiotic, but, in a sense, it was a courageous move on his part.

In order to better understand and evaluate his decision, I would like to know what the leadership did that was so wrong. Why was it putting soldiers in danger? How was it putting Bergdahl and his fellow men in danger? It must have been pretty severe. In understanding his decision, I would also like to know why the Army didn’t tell their men how to formally make complaints, which is something that could have made this whole situation completely avoidable, if what Bergdahl is saying is accurate and his reasons are, in fact, valid.

After watching the 52 second fly over of the terrain, Bergdahl’s plan seems a bit of a stretch, but it is plausible. He was a fit man and used to high altitudes, but it was still a long walk, walking through villages where the people did not know him. Despite being in disguise, it would have been clear to the natives that he was an American soldier. He did have money to bribe the people for help, but even then, the people were probably also afraid of the Taliban, who surely wouldn’t be too thrilled if they found out that they were helping an American. Bergdahl didn’t know the language, either, which would create quite a barrier in asking for help from the locals on his long journey.

If it were me, I would not be able to make it over the terrain. It’s too far, too varying in landscape, and I would be completely alone, going to a place I’m not familiar with, for anywhere from 24-48 hours, if not longer. I’m not as healthy as Bergdahl probably was. According to other men, the OP Mest was disastrous and making soldiers ill; if that were the case, I’m sure I’d be one of the first ones to become sick and unable to do my job properly—much less trek through area I don’t know and cause such a ruckus.

Without a doubt, there’s so much more to know about Bergdahl and his journey. We have the why and the plan, but we don’t know exactly how far he made it in his plan and who he was helped by, if he was tipped off to the Taliban by a local. There are many things that have yet to be revealed, but the most important answer was given, and that’s an extremely good start.