Prior to his disappearance from an Army base in southeastern Afghanistan, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl had established a reputation for wandering away from assigned areas, according to a classified military report written in the summer of 2009. It happened both in Afghanistan and while he was training in California. The report concludes that Bergdahl was likely wandering around off-base the night he disappeared in June 2009, says the Times, which spoke to people briefed on the 35-page document.
As for whether the disappearance was due to carelessness resulting in capture or willful desertion, the report doesn’t say. It does, however, lend credence to the former theory, criticizing lax security and poor discipline among Bergdahl’s unit that would allow his tendencies to wander to go unchecked. Perhaps most significantly, the report makes no mention of the letter Bergdahl reportedly left in his tent announcing his desertion. Nor does it corroborate claims from Bergdahl’s former squadmates that he was making radio calls trying to get in touch with the Taliban.
Some of the other points critics have seized on to argue against Bergdahl are confirmed in the report, including his shipment home of his computer and leaving the base without his gun. Still, the Times categorizes the report’s assessment of Berghdahl as “positive, with quotes from both commanders and squadmates — apparently including some of the men now criticizing him — describing him as punctual, always in the correct uniform and asking good questions.”