The Pentagon on several occasions had ground-level intelligence on where Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was being held captive at various times — down to how many gunmen were guarding him — but special operations commanders repeatedly shelved rescue missions because they didn’t want to risk casualties for a man they believed to be a “deserter,” sources familiar with the mission plans said.
Commanders on the ground debated whether to pull the trigger on a rescue several times in recent years, according to one of the sources, a former high-level intelligence official in Afghanistan, who said the conclusion each time was that the prospect of losing highly trained troops was too high a price to pay for rescuing a soldier who walked away from his unit before being captured by the enemy.
A second source told The Washington Times that the rescue operation plans were “high risk” and became even less attractive in recent months when officials in the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command grew convinced that the Taliban and the militant Haqqani network, whose operatives were holding Sgt. Bergdahl, were eager to cut a deal for his release.
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