The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

April 25, 2014

AP sources: Work to free US soldier disorganized

(Continued)

In a statement issued Thursday, U.S. Central Command said the allegations were "completely false and mischaracterize the ongoing close coordination and teamwork between U.S. Central Command, the Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies" in seeking Bergdahl's return.

Navy Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost, a Defense Department spokeswoman, also defended the effort, saying the Pentagon was committed to the safe and immediate release of Bergdahl and saying Lumpkin was spearheading the "comprehensive synchronization" of efforts throughout the department and with other agencies.

Col. Tim Marsano, a spokesman for the Idaho National Guard who is in regular contact with the Bergdahl family, said his parents had no comment on the claims the effort was disorganized and hampered by poor communication among government agencies.

The Pentagon is exploring several avenues to get Bergdahl released, including one that seeks to negotiate with the Haqqani network, according to an individual familiar with the government's efforts. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the Pentagon's efforts, said some government officials also are looking into ways to seek the simultaneous release of Bergdahl and four civilians, including a woman who was pregnant when she went missing, believed held by militants.

All avenues are fraught with difficulties.

In late February, the Taliban said they had suspended "mediation" with the United States about swapping Bergdahl for the five Taliban detainees, blaming the "current complex political situation" in Afghanistan. There also is some congressional opposition to the prisoner swap. According to military documents, one of the five served as interior minister during the Taliban's five-year rule of Afghanistan and had direct ties to Osama bin Laden.

"That's dead," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said when asked about the prison swap idea. "It hasn't gone anywhere for a couple of years."

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