A framegrab from a video released by the Taliban in 2010 shows a man believed to be Spc. Bowe Bergdahl, the only known American serviceman being held in captivity in Afghanistan. In a letter Tuesday, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to appoint a single official to better coordinate government efforts to rescue Bergdahl. (IntelCenter / AP)
For almost five years, a host of military and State Department officials have worked to free prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. But one Republican lawmaker is concerned that all the effort is not sufficiently focused to bring him home.
In a letter Tuesday, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to appoint a single official to better coordinate government efforts to rescue Bergdahl, the longest-held American military prisoner since the Vietnam War.
“I believe it would be extraordinarily beneficial to establish centralized control of the Bergdahl operation that is fully capable of linking broader government activity,” wrote Hunter, a former Marine who served a combat tour in Afghanistan. “It is absolutely critical that efforts to free Bergdahl are not overcome by bureaucracy.”
On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that the White House is attempting to resume talks with Taliban fighters to try to free Bergdahl. That includes the possible release of five prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for the American soldier.
Defense officials have not commented on specifics, but last Friday, the Pentagon’s top spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said “he’s been gone too long ... we’re working very hard to see if we can’t get him returned.”
The effort has included officials from the Pentagon, State Department and other agencies, according to the Post. In his letter, Hunter said that while U.S. Central Command has the official lead on the effort, “I am concerned by the lack of cohesiveness and interagency coordination overall.”
He also praised efforts to free Bergdahl to date, but noted: “It is important that we, as a nation, direct all necessary operational resources and personnel to the ongoing effort to bring him home.”
Bergdahl, an Idaho native, was taken prisoner in Afghanistan in June 30, 2009. A “proof of life” video showing the 27-year-old soldier was released by his captors in January.