Retired Army Sergeant Matthew Vierkant, who was a platoon member with Bergdahl and served with him in Afghanistan, spoke out against the Obama Administration’s decision to release five Taliban prisoners in exchange for him and shed light on the controversial circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s capture by the Taliban.
Appearing on CNN’s New Day, Vierkant explained to Chris Cuomo that Bergdahl left on his own.
"He left his weapons and equipment, took minimal supplies, and walked off to either join the Taliban or do something else… The general feeling was that he deserted us and walked off and left us," Vierkant said.
The retired army sergeant spoke about Bergdahl’s sudden departure, telling Cuomo that he believes Bergdahl planned his escape, "I think it was definitely premeditated with the emails he sent to his father, mailing his stuff home before the mission. I believe it definitely shows intent, premeditation, and those are the facts- that’s what happened."
He defended his service members’ search efforts to find Bergdahl- everybody in the country looked for him.
During their search, they discovered that "he [Bergdahl] was seen by locals in various different areas on his own, walking about on his own free will, not with anybody else but just acting alone."
Chris Cuomo asked, "Does it matter to you the circumstances under which he came to be captured in determining whether or not the U.S. should have done every it could to get him back?"
"Of course it matters. It matters to me, it matters to everybody in my platoon and company. It matters to every service member that was on the ground in Afghanistan conducting missions, putting themselves in harms way, for somebody who willingly walked off to do whatever. Either way, he put people at risk," Vierkant said.
Asked if he would make the same deal the Obama Administration made to get Bergdahl back, Vierkant simply said "No."
Cuomo followed up "Simple as that?" to which the retired army sergeant responded, "Yep."
Pressed further to explain his answer, Vierkant said "I believe that it’s good that he’s back home, that we are going to get him care, get him what he needs to recover, but I don’t believe trading five prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay for him was the right decision."