Bowe Bergdahl

‘Serial’: Bergdahl explains why he walked off his base

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, right, arrives for a pretrial hearing at Fort Bragg, N.C., with his defense counsel Lt. Col. Franklin D. Rosenblatt, left, on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016.
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, right, arrives for a pretrial hearing at Fort Bragg, N.C., with his defense counsel Lt. Col. Franklin D. Rosenblatt, left, on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. AP

The latest episode of Serial, the This American Life podcast covering Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in its second season, explored the reasons the Idaho soldier said he walked off base in 2009.

Bergdahl told filmmaker Mark Boal that he wrote up about 380 pages for a report for Maj. Kenneth Dahl, who investigated the case, about his motivations for leaving his base in Afghanistan.

Most of his complaints had to do with the discourse between command and the platoon. He also expressed frustration with the mundanity of the operation.

RELATED: LISTEN TO THE IDAHO STATESMAN/KBSX COMPANION PODCAST, “SPEAKING OF SERIAL”

“I wanted to be a soldier. I wanted to be a security contracter afterwards, you know? I wanted people to take me serious,” Bergdahl said. “You know, I wanted to go into special forces.”

In one instance, a Guardian journalist embedded with Bergdahl’s platoon took photos of soldiers that caused controversy. Higher-ups vehemently criticized the soldier’s lack of protective gear and said they were endangering themselves. Some who had been in the photo were transferred and demoted. Bergdahl said he considered the reactions problematic.

When coming back from a dangerous mission, Bergdahl said his superiors gave him the impression they didn’t care about the safety of the platoon. He was concerned higher command would intentionally put his platoon in harm’s way.

Speaking later in the podcast, Boal said he was surprised at the extent of Bergdahl’s reaction to the incidents.

“The story that he told didn't really ever changed. But my understanding of the person telling that story changed,” Boal said on the podcast.

Erin Fenner: 208-377-6207, @erinfenner

LISTEN WITH US

We’re following along with Season 2 of “Serial” as it revisits the case of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Every Wednesday after a new Serial episode, reporters with the Idaho Statesman and Boise State Public Radio will host a companion podcast, “Speaking of Serial,” discussing Bergdahl’s case, Serial’s reporting and what happens when an Idahoan becomes the center of international news.

You’ll find the latest episode here.

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