The Army's Search for Bergdahl
In 2010, WikiLeaks published a six-year archive of classified U.S. military documents. These intelligence and incident reports, which revealed information on such things as drone warfare and the Taliban’s use of missiles, also illustrated the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. This includes military communications from June 30, the day Bergdahl walked off his outpost, as well as the next several days of the search for him.
Read through the full version of the war diaries here to get a sense of those initial days.
Here are some highlights.
0430z BLACKFOOT TOC REPORTS SOLDIER IS MISSING
The “z” (for “zulu”) here is zulu time , which is the same as Greenwich Mean Time, the standard used in the military to avoid confusion over time zones. So that’s 4:30 a.m. GMT, about 9 a.m. at the outpost.
UPDATE: 0505z BLACKFOOT TOC REPORTS B6 HAS BEEN NOTIFIED. B6 ORDERS ALL VEHICLES, LATRINES, BUNKERS, AND ANP FACILITIES ARE TO BE SEARCHED. BOTH IN MEST AND SHARAN
In this report, the B6 orders a count of every single soldier in the battle space, including at ANP (Afghan National Police) facilities. The B here stands for Blackfoot Company; the 6 signifies a commander—in this case, Captain Silvino Silvino.
Then they declare the DUSTWUN (duty status whereabouts unknown).
UPDATE: 0535z 1 GERONIMO TOC INITIATES DUSTWUN FOR MEST OP VB 592 478 NET CALL WAS SENT OUT NEED 100% ACCOUNTABILITY OF ALL PERSONEL
Every couple of minutes for more than an hour, different tactical operation centers (TOCs) and other groups report back: we’re all here. One small note: the VB (Victor Bravo) coordinates here refer to a map the military uses. The 8 numbers (VB 6597 3366), in the report below, signify a more precise location, while the 6 numbers (VB 592 478), above, refer to a slightly wider area.
UPDATE: 1012z GUARDRAIL REPORTS PICKED UP LLVI TRAFFIC AT GRID VB 6597 3366 THAT STATES (UIM INDICATES THAT AN AMERICAN SOLDIER IS TALKING AND IS LOOKING FOR SOMEONE WHO SPEAKS ENGLISH. INDICATES AMERICAN SOLDIER HAS CAMERA
LLVI stands for “low-level voice intercept,” technology used to pick up enemy communications. LLVI teams scan the airwaves, looking for mobile, radio, and other transmissions. (In the above report, UIM stands for “unidentified male.”) In Episode 02, Sarah, who spoke with sources who know how Army intel works, noted these intercepts are, “ quick translations of overheard chatter ... nuance is lost, mistranslations aren’t uncommon.”
Here’s a video showing how some of these LLVIs are collected.
UPDATE: 1212z YUKON 6 REPORTS ALL OPERATIONS WILL CEASE UNTIL MISSING SOLDIER IS FOUND. ALL ASSESTS WILL BE FOCUSED ON THE DUSTWUN SITUATION AND SUSTAINMENT OPERATIONS
UPDATE: 1309z BATT 04 FREQ 168.4 U2 RECEIVED INTEL THAT CONFIRMS THE CAPTURE OF A U.S. SOLDIER
At this point, you can see the reports make a switch: from talking of a missing soldier to information about a captured one.
At 2:34 a.m. GMT, or 7:04 a.m. local time in Afghanistan, some more intercepted messages.
UPDATE: 01 0234z LLVI TRAFFIC REPORT:
163.2125/0227Z/42SVB4076446756 0.47KM X 0.16KM AZ 95.8/1- I SWEAR THAT I HAVE NOT HEARD ANYTHING YET. WHAT HAPPENED. IS THAT TRUE THAT THEY CAPTURED AN AMERICAN GUY?
2- YES THEY DID. HE IS ALIVE. THERE IS NO WHERE HE CAN GO (LOL)
1- IS HE STILL ALIVE? 2- YES HE IS ALIVE. BUT I DONT HAVE THE WHOLE STORY. DONT KNOW IF THEY WERE FIGHTING. ALL I KNOW IF THEY WERE FIGHTIING. ALL I KNOW THAT THEY CAPTURE HIM ALIVE AND THEY ARE WITH HIM RIGHT NOW.
UPDATE: 0237z LLVI TRAFFIC FROM FIELD TEAM: Freq-168.65 LOB-135 SS-26 UIM SAYS "CUT THE HEAD OFF"
Intelligence about where Bergdahl might be pops up all through these reports, and you get a sense of how quickly the troops were moving to follow different leads. Major Mike Waltz, who was the commander of a special operations company, said they were acting on “any shred of evidence” they could get their hands on.
UPDATE: 1248z SPOT REPORT MISSING US SOLDIER WAS LAST SEEN IN A VILLAGE AT GRID LOCATION VB 611 818; A BAG WAS COVERING HIS HEAD AND HE WAS WEARING DARK KHAKI APPAREL. HE WAS BEING TRANSPORTED IN A BLACK TOYOTA CORROLLA WHICH IN ADDITION WAS BEING ESCORTED BY 3-5 MOTORCYCLES.