FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was a “gold mine” of intelligence, helping the military better understand insurgents and how they imprison hostages, two agents testified Tuesday as defense attorneys sought to show the soldier's contributions since he was returned in a prisoner swap.
The testimony at Bergdahl's sentencing was meant to counter prosecution evidence favoring stiff punishment, including several service members who testified about wounds they suffered on search missions after Bergdahl's 2009 disappearance. Bergdahl faces up to life in prison after pleading guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy for walking off his remote post in Afghanistan in 2009.
The Army judge has wide leeway to decide Bergdahl's sentence because he didn't strike a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Amber Dach, who spent 16 years in military intelligence, was the primary analyst assigned to Bergdahl's case for the five years after he disappeared. She described how eager he was to help intelligence officials at a hospital in Germany days after he was returned to U.S. authorities.
“He was very motivated to just download all of the details that he recalled,” she testified. “It was a gold mine. It really reshaped the way we did intel collection in the area.”
An official from the military agency that helps reintegrate former captives and develops survival training for service members testified that information Bergdahl provided him was invaluable.
Terrence Russell, a division chief for the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, developed a 1,200-page transcript from debriefing Bergdahl that was turned into a database.
Russell said he'd like to learn even more from Bergdahl but the soldier's legal case has impeded that.
Bergdahl's sentencing hearing is expected to last several more days.