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Prosecution Calls Commanders in First Day Of Bergdahl Hearing; Defense To Call Witnesses Today

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Bergdahl defense attorney Gene Fidell

Today is the second day in a military hearing for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and Bergdahl’s attorneys will be calling their witnesses. Yesterday three of Bergdahl’s commanders testified that Bergdahl  placed a great strain on other soldiers when he left his post in Afghanistan in 2009. 


On  Thursday, prosecutors called Bergdahl’s commanders to the stand.  Captain John Billings testified that Bergdahl was an outstanding soldier before he left this post.


Bergdahl left in the early morning June 30th 2009, leaving behind weapons and his night visions goggles; he was found by the Taliban and held for five years.


But Blackfoot Company Commander Silvino Silvino [sic] said Bergdahl’s disappearance triggered an intensive search that occupied most of the soldiers in his platoon, company, and battalion for 45 days. Silvino says that put the posts under his command at a security risk. The soldiers became physically and mentally exhausted. Supplies became scarce.  Equipment, including some armored trucks, was heavily damaged by explosive devices.


When Bergdahl’s attorney got his turn, he asked Billings and Silvino if they knew Bergdahl was previously discharged from the Coast Guard because of a mental health issue. Both said they didn’t know about that.

Bergdahl’s attorney Gene Fidell wants the army to release an interrogation document that highlights statements Bergdahl made to the Army shortly after being rescued last year.


“Then we wouldn’t have to be having this shadow boxing about what Sgt. Bergdahl said and what he didn’t say,” Fidell told reporters.


The officer presiding over the hearing, Lt Col. Mark A Visger, said he couldn’t authorize the release of the documents. Fidell plans to call four witnesses to testify on behalf of Bergdahl but did not indicate if the accused soldier would be one of them.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules