General Stanley McChrystal was in charge of operations in Afghanistan when, according to those who served with him, Bowe Bergdahl walked off his camp towards the Taliban. Despite ordering soldiers to engage in dangerous efforts to find him, McChrystal warns against “judging” the Obama administration on the Bergdahl trade.
In an interview with Yahoo News, McChrystal explained that the efforts made to find Bergdahl were necessary because “we don’t leave Americans behind – that’s unequivocal.” “We did a huge number of operations to try to stop the Taliban from being able to move him across the border into Pakistan… and we made a great effort and put a lot of people at risk in doing that, but that’s what you should do,” he told Yahoo’s Oliver Knox.
McChrystal is currently in Pennsylvania for the Aspen Institute’s Summit at Gettysburg, a three-day conference on the military featuring speakers such as Paul Begala and Chelsea Clinton.
McChrystal left the door open to the possibility that Bergdahl behaved inappropriately in walking away from his camp, though he did not take sides on the issue nor discuss any of the evidence that has surfaced in light of Bergdahl’s return. The debate around the trade of five high-level Taliban leaders for Bergdahl, he noted, “raises the great issue that we should talk about – and that is responsibility and service.” There was potential that Bergdahl behaved inappropriately, he said, and authorities “should review that and see whether we met responsibilities.”
As for conclusions based on his anti-American emails, observations by Afghan villagers that he appeared to be seeking the Taliban, and the aforementioned testimonies of those in the theater of war with Bergdahl, they must wait until Bergdahl has his say, McChrystal warned: “We’re going to have to wait and talk to Sergeant Bergdahl now… we should not judge until we know the facts.”
McChrystal did not offer any opinions on the released Taliban officials nor the six soldiers who died looking for Bergdahl, saying he would “leave it to people” to debate Bergdahl’s intentions.
McChrystal served as head of the American mission in Afghanistan from June 15, 2009, to June 23, 2010, when he resigned after the publication of a profile by Michael Hastings of the general in Rolling Stone magazine, featuring his disparaging language regarding President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and other indiscretions. Hastings won the 2010 George Polk Award for his efforts.
Watch an excerpt of Knox’s interview with McChrystal below: