As we all know by now, Season 2 of Serial focuses on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's controversial disappearance from his unit and subsequent capture by the Taliban. No matter how you feel about the case, it's certainly fascinating to listen to, but you might need a little help keeping track of all the details (kinda like in True Detective Season 2). One question that you might be wondering: where exactly was Sgt. Bergdahl stationed at the time of his disappearance and capture by the Taliban? So much of Bergdahl's story remains a mystery — specifically the hows and whys of his capture and the subsequent five years he spent in captivity with the Taliban — but so many of the concrete facts surrounding his story have since come to light. In June 2009, Bergdahl was in eastern Afghanistan near the town of Yahya Kheyl and was captured in Paktika Province, where officials note he was stationed at Outpost Mest Malak. The outpost, according to the New York Times, "had a barbed wire perimeter surrounding lean-tos for living quarters, a few Hesco fortification barriers and about five armored transport vehicles used as guard stations."
Former members of Bergdahl's unit described the area as a "dry riverbed with about 100 yards of desert that opened into a small hill where an Afghan National Police Unit was located." The outpost was 20 miles away from Sharana, the capital of the Paktika province. Military reports indicate that Bergdal was last seen about 20 miles outside of Mest, his "head covered with a bag."
In a page-and-half single-spaced letter provided to the New York Times by his lawyer, Bergdahl recounted his experiences. Held captive by the Haqqani insurgent network, the army sergeant claims that he tried to escape a total of 12 times — the first coming just hours after he was captured in June 2009. He told the New York Times that he was recaptured and beaten. Roughly a year later, Bergdahl wrote that he attempted to escape again, and that attempt lasted upwards of nine days.
Without food and only putrid water to drink, my body failed on top of a short mountain close to evening. Some moments after I came to in the dying gray light of the evening, I was found by a large Taliban searching group.
Upon his recapture, Bergdahl says that he was hit by the search group and returned to his captors. He also wrote that the searching group attempted to pull out his beard and his hair. His letter to the New York Times was the only communication Bergdahl has had with the press. It also marks the only time when he has spoken publicly about his time held captive.
Army officials said that if convicted of misbehavior before the enemy, Sgt. Bergdahl faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. If charged with desertion, he could face a maximum penalty of five years in prison. If he is tried and convicted, Bergdahl may also face dishonorable discharge, a reduction in rank, and the forfeiture of the pay he is owned from the time he spent in enemy hands.
Covering the case for Serial, the hugely popular podcast has been privy to 25 hours worth of recorded investigative conversation between Bergdahl and Oscar-winning screenwriter Mark Boal, who is currently working on a film based on Bergdahl's ordeal.
Bergdahl's trial unfolds along with Season 2 of the addictive podcast, in a conflation of real life and entertainment magic that only our generation, which devours reality TV and true-crime shows, can truly understand. However, Julie Snyder forewarned the New York Times that the Bergdahl story is not aimed at stringing fans along until the finale, similar to how HBO's stellar Jinx documentary unfolded about Robert Durst.
No, we’re not holding back on something that the world needs to know.
Serial host Sarah Koenig explained to NPR that Bergdahl didn't sound like he's avoiding answering tough questions, either. She argues that instead, he's just trying to explain what happened to him.
Honestly, there's so much he said, she said taking place here that I guess we'll have to wait to see how this all plays out, IRL and on Serial.