President Barack Obama has continued to stand by his plan to begin the removal of all U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan, stating that by the end of 2014, America’s longest war will finally end. But for Bob and Jani Bergdahl, the war will never be over until their son is safely home.
U.S. Army Spc. Bowe Bergdahl is currently the only U.S. service member being held as a prisoner of war in the Afghan conflict. According to reports by CNN News and ABC News, Bergdahl has been held in captivity since June 30, 2009, when he was discovered missing after not reporting for morning roll call at his post in Eastern Afghanistan.
As stated in The Los Angeles Times, it is believed the Taliban-allied Haqqani network is responsible for Bergdahl’s captivity. It is thought that 28-year-old Bergdahl is being held in various locations around Pakistan, but his exact whereabouts are unknown.
While it is unclear where exactly Bergdahl is, he is known is to be alive. The U.S. Pentagon, according to NBC News, recently received a thumb drive containing a video in which Bergdahl appears. In it, he talks of Nelson Mandela’s death, solidifying the belief that the video is recent.
This video is a rarity, only the sixth image of him since his captivity, and the first video in over three years, according to SupportBowe.org and TimeMagazine.com, respectively. In the video, Bergdahl’s physical condition is deemed “declining health” as a result of his prolonged captivity, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The Bergdahl family is aware of the video and issued the following statement, obtained by the Idaho National Guard:
“Naturally, this is very important to us and our resolve to continue our efforts to bring Bowe home as soon as possible. As we have done so many times over the past four and a half years, we request his captors to release him safely so that our only son can be reunited with his mother and father. BOWE — if you see this, continue to remain strong through patience. Your endurance will carry you to the finish line. Breathe!”
Additionally, for the first time since Bergdahl’s capture, Bob Bergdahl released a video statement of his own. In his video, posted on SupportBowe.org, Bob Bergdahl pleaded for his son’s safe return. He also thanked the Pakistanis for keeping their son Bowe alive, and expressed his sympathy in the loss of their own sons.
After much pleading on the Bergdahls’ part, the Pentagon said that they were in talks with the Taliban to release five of their members currently incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay. While there are concerns that these members could be re-trained and reinstated into the Taliban, this is a risk the U.S. is considering taking in order to retrieve Bergdahl.
A spokesperson from the Pentagon, as told by ABC News, stated that they are doing all in their power to ensure the safe and prompt return of Bergdahl.
Editor’s Note: Information from The Los Angeles Times, CNN, NBC News, Time Magazine and ABC News was used in this report.