Hunter: Coordination on Bowe Bergdahl release needed

Congressman Duncan Hunter is calling on the Pentagon, in consultation with the State Department, to appoint a civilian leader to coordinate U.S. efforts to free Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only prisoner of the Afghan War. 

“While I am aware that U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is in direct control of the Bergdahl situation, I am concerned by the lack of cohesiveness and interagency coordination overall,” Hunter wrote Tuesday in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces Five takeaways from Pentagon chief's first major trip Esper given horse in Mongolia as US looks for new inroads against China MORE


“Since CENTCOM is not designed to effectively implement and manage an ‘all government approach,’ I believe it would be extraordinarily beneficial to establish centralized control of the Bergdahl operation that is fully capable of linking broader government authority,” he wrote. 

The letter comes after a video of Bergdahl was released; The Daily Beast reported on Feb. 12 that the video was a precondition to the U.S. restarting talks with the Taliban to obtain his release. The report also said there were discussions of obtaining Bergdahl's release by releasing Afghan Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the administration was prepared to offer release for five members of the Afghan Taliban held at Guantánamo, but the White House has insisted there are no "active negotiations" with the Taliban to secure Bergdahl's release.

A U.S. official confirmed to CNN on Tuesday that the “extremely sensitive” talks were underway, and are driven by concerns about his health and the looming departure of most troops from Afghanistan. The talks are being led by diplomats, although the Pentagon is involved, CNN reported. 

Bergdahl, 27, was captured by the Taliban in June 2009, and is being held in Pakistan. 

"We applaud the unity of purpose and resolve at the White House and the other U.S. government agencies involved," the Bergdahl family said in a statement. 

"We thank all involved for this renewed effort and we hope everyone takes this opportunity seriously. We are cautiously optimistic these discussions will lead to the safe return of our son after more than four and a half years in captivity,” the family said.

-The Hill's Justin Sink contributed to this report.