Bergdahl and the War in Afghanistan

This brief overview shows where points along Bowe Bergdahl’s timeline fall within the bigger context of the Afghan war. 

  • 2006
  • February 24, 2006
    Bowe Bergdahl discharged from the Coast Guard.
  • December 2006
    Lt. Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. James Amos release the counterinsurgency (COIN) manual.
  • 2007
  • 2008
  • June 12, 2008
    Bergdahl enlists in the Army.
  • October 2008
    Bergdahl completes basic training and reports to Blackfoot Company, 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment at Fort Richardson, Alaska.
  • November 10, 2008
    The Haqqanis capture the journalist David Rohde.
  • 2009
  • January 22, 2009
    The Obama administration creates a new position—Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP)—and appoints Richard Holbrooke.
  • February 17, 2009
    President Obama decides to increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan to 53,000, an addition of 17,000.
  • March 3, 2009
    Bergdahl’s battalion deploys to Paktika province in Afghanistan. Bergdahl stays behind in Alaska, due to an infection in his heel.
  • March 27, 2009
    President Obama announces his strategy for Afghanistan, calling the situation there “increasingly perilous.”
  • May 13, 2009
    Bergdahl joins his unit at FOB Sharana in Afghanistan.
  • May 2009
    Defense Secretary Robert Gates says casualties among American and coalition forces and Afghan security forces are up 75 percent compared with the previous year.
  • May 17-22, 2009
    Bergdhal’s platoon is sent to Omnah. The mission, which was supposed to last a few hours, stretches into several days.
  • Late May 2009
    Sean Smith, a photographer for the Guardian, takes photos of Bergdahl’s platoon that show some soldiers without their proper gear.
  • June 15, 2009
    Gen. Stanley McChrystal takes command of ISAF.
  • June 20, 2009
    David Rohde escapes from captivity in Miram Shah, Pakistan.
  • June 30, 2009
    Bergdahl walks off his outpost, an action that triggers a DUSTWUN (duty status whereabouts unknown).
  • July 3, 2009
    The army changes Bergdhal’s status from DUSTWUN to missing-captured.
  • Mid-July 2009
    The Taliban release first video of Bergdahl.
  • August 20, 2009
    Presidential elections are held in Afghanistan. The incumbent, Hamid Karzai, is eventually declared the winner.
  • December 1, 2009
    President Obama announces that he will send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.
  • December 25, 2009
    The Taliban release another video of Bergdahl.
  • 2010
  • April 2010
    In a nearly eight minute video released by the Taliban, Bergdahl talks about the war and does a few push-ups, at the behest of the filmmakers, to show that he is healthy. Bergdahl said this was filmed near the end of his first year in captivity.
  • June 23, 2010
    Obama fires McChrystal as ISAF commander, after Rolling Stone publishes an article in which McChrystal is critical of the administration’s handling of the war. General David Petraeus is tapped to take McChrystal’s place.
  • November 2010
    American and Taliban negotiators have secret talks in Germany where they discuss the possibility of reconciliation. A potential prisoner exchange is also mentioned. Talks continue on and off over the next several years.
  • December 2010
    Footage of Bergdahl, with Mullah Sangeen Zadran, appears in a Taliban propaganda video. Bergdahl said the Taliban shot the scenes shortly after he was taken hostage.
  • December 13, 2010
    Holbrooke, the SRAP, dies—a significant setback for reconciliation talks.
  • 2011
  • February 18, 2011
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives a speech at the Asia Society, which paves the way for talks with the Taliban. She announces Marc Grossman as the new SRAP.
  • May 1, 2011
    Obama announces that U.S. Navy Seals have killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
  • May 4, 2011
    The Taliban release a video that includes footage of Bergdahl blindfolded. Bergdahl said this was taken soon after he was captured.
  • May 6, 2011
    Bob Bergdahl uploads a video appealing to Pakistan to return his son.
  • May 2011
    The secret Taliban–U.S. negotiations temporarily collapse after the talks are leaked to the press.
  • June 12, 2011
    Bergdahl is promoted to sergeant. His father, Bob Bergdahl, above, accepts the promotion certificate.
  • June 22, 2011
    Obama announces a plan to draw down troops by the following summer, with the goal of bringing home 33,000 troops—approximately the size of the December 2009 surge.
  • September 20, 2011
    Burhanuddin Rabbani, the chairman of the Afghan High Peace Council, is killed by a suicide bomber. The assassination is a significant setback for Afghan–Taliban reconciliation talks.
  • November 2011
    House Republicans are briefed on a potential deal to swap five Guantanamo detainees for Bergdahl. The plan is met with considerable concern.
  • 2012
  • March 2012
    The Taliban break off talks with the U.S. Future talks are through Qatari intermediaries.
  • September 7, 2012
    The Obama administration designates the Haqqanis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
  • 2013
  • May 10, 2013
    Ambassador James Dobbins replaces Grossman in the SRAP office.
  • June 18, 2013
    With the possibility of renewed talks through the Qataris, the Taliban open a political office in Doha, Qatar. But President Karzai and U.S. officials object to a plaque outside the compound and a flag, which refer to the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”
  • July 9, 2013
    The Taliban temporarily close the office in Doha; attempts at talks stall again.
  • September 6, 2013
    Mullah Sangeen Zadran, Bowe’s captor, is reportedly killed by a drone strike.
  • 2014
  • Early 2014
    With Qatar acting as an intermediary, the Taliban and U.S. officials begin to talk about a prisoner release that is separate from reconciliation.
  • January 2014
    The Taliban send a new proof-of-life video to the U.S. government, but it is not made public.
  • April 10, 2014
    American and Qatari officials continue discussions about a memorandum of understanding (MOU) stipulating the conditions of a potential transfer of Guantanamo detainees to Qatar.
  • May 12, 2014
    The MOU between Qatar and the U.S. is signed. The agreement requires the detainees to stay in Qatar for a year.
  • May 27, 2014
    The U.S., Qataris, and the Taliban agree on a final deal to swap five Guantanamo prisoners for Bergdahl.
  • May 31, 2014
    The Taliban release Bergdahl to a U.S. special-operations team. Five Guantanamo detainees are released to Qatari officials.
  • May 31, 2014
    Obama announces Bergdahl’s release in the White House Rose Garden, with Bob and Jani Bergdahl by his side.
  • June 2, 2014
    Congress receives official notification of the detainee transfer.
  • December 28, 2014
    The president announces the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan.
  • 2015
  • March 25, 2015
    The army charges Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
  • May 31, 2015
    U.S and Qatar agree to extend the travel ban on the five former Guantanamo detainees involved in the swap.
  • September 17-18, 2015
    The army conducts an Article 32 hearing on Bergdahl’s charges.
  • October 2015
    Obama announces that 5,500 troops will remain in Afghanistan through the end of his term in 2017. Special-operations teams also take on a larger combat role.
  • December 14, 2015
    The Army refers Bergdahl’s case to a general court-martial.
  • 2016
Photo of Richard Holbrooke: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak; Guardian photo: Sean Smith/The Guardian; Bob Bergdahl with army representative: courtesy U.S. Army; Burhanuddin Rabbani rally in 2011: AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili; Taliban office: courtesy of @salmansid; court drawing: Associated Press/Brigitte Woosley

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