GRAPHICS SOURCED FROM: NYTimes.com; YouTube (video)
Sometime after midnight on June 30, 2009, Pfc. (now, Sgt.) Bowe Bergdahl disappeared from Outpost Mest Malak in Paktika Province in eastern Afghanistan. Why and how he disappeared and was captured by the Taliban are the subject of speculation and criticism. Former members of his battalion have accused him of desertion.
The outpost had a barbed wire perimeter surrounding lean-tos for living quarters, a few Hesco fortification barriers and about five armored transport vehicles used as guard stations, according to members of Bergdahl’s battalion.
The outpost was a temporary camp erected in 2009 by Bergdahl’s platoon which was based at the provincial capital, Sharana, about 20 miles northeast. They were usually sent to the outpost for five to six days at a time.
After Bergdahl was reported missing from his outpost, the Army launched an intensive search. Secret military dispatches provided details on the first eight days of the military’s pursuit.
The Taliban handed Bergdahl over to U.S. Special Forces on 31 May, 2014, near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, as part of a previously arranged prisoner exchange in which five senior members of the Taliban were released from imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S.’s military detention center in Cuba. The five senior Taliban prisoners were released to the custody of Taliban officials in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban still maintain a diplomatic outpost. Subsequent to the exchange, the Taliban released the following video, detailing the release and exchange of the prisoners on both sides (full translation forthcoming):