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Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl returned to regular Army duty

Bowe Bergdahl

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The U.S. Army says Bergdahl has been released from inpatient care at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. A statement Sunday, June 22, 2014, from the Army says the former prisoner of war in Afghanistan is now receiving outpatient care at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, File)

By
July 15, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — The Army has given Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl a desk job, ending the formal phase of his transition from Taliban prisoner to not-quite-ordinary soldier, and setting the stage for Army investigators to question the Idaho native about his disappearance that led to five years in captivity.

In a brief statement Monday, the Army said Bergdahl has been assigned to U.S. Army North at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in Texas.

Bergdahl has been decompressing and recuperating from the effects of captivity since his arrival there from a military base in Germany. Since he was handed over to U.S. special forces in Afghanistan on May 31, he has been debriefed for any possible intelligence he might have gleaned in his time with the Taliban. Otherwise, he has been gently coaxed back into a normal routine and a normal life, both physically and psychologically.

Bergdahl’s case is one of the most extraordinary of recent times – for the length of his captivity, for his apparent decision to abandon his unit during a combat deployment, and for the controversy triggered by the circumstances of his release May 31.

It’s not clear when Bergdahl will face investigators on the disappearance probe, whose findings will help determine whether the 28-year-old is prosecuted for desertion or faces any other disciplinary action. The probe is headed by Maj. Gen. Kenneth R. Dahl, deputy commanding general of 1st Corps at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington state.

Numerous other questions are lingering, including whether Bergdahl will collect the estimated $300,000 in back pay he has accumulated over the past five years.

Bergdahl walked away from his unit after expressing misgivings about the U.S. military’s role – as well as his own – in Afghanistan. He was captured by Taliban members and held by members of the Haqqani network, an insurgent group tied to the Taliban. He was released as part of a deal in which the U.S. gave up five top Taliban commanders imprisoned at the military prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The terms of the deal sparked a political storm in Washington.

Some former members of Bergdahl’s former unit have labeled him a deserter, asserting that he chose to walk away and saying some were wounded or killed looking for him. The Army has not ruled out disciplinary action against Bergdahl, who was promoted twice during captivity, from private first class to sergeant, as a matter of standard procedure.

Bergdahl’s exact administrative duties at U.S. Army North were not immediately disclosed, but a Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Steve Warren, said Bergdahl is not restricted in any way. The Army said that in his assignment to U.S. Army North he “can contribute to the mission,” which is focused on homeland defense.

“He is a normal soldier now,” Warren said.

At the time of his disappearance, Bergdahl was a member of 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska. An initial U.S. military investigation in 2009 concluded that Bergdahl deliberately walked away, based on evidence available at the time.

Bergdahl, whose family lives in Hailey, Idaho, arrived at the Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston on June 13 after nearly two weeks recuperating at a U.S. military hospital in Germany. Warren said he did not believe Bergdahl has seen his parents since his return to the United States. Army officials have refused to discuss the question of Bergdahl’s contact with his parents, saying the family requested that it be kept private.

The focus of his recuperation period in Germany and at San Antonio has been to prepare him for returning to normal life – a task made more complicated by the storm of controversy that erupted over the circumstances of his release and allegations that he deserted. He worked daily with health professionals to regain a sense of normalcy and come to grips with his new situation.

Army officials had said that in recent days Bergdahl was allowed to go, with supervision, to a grocery store, restaurants, shopping centers and a library as part of the process of getting him comfortable with being out in public.

Bergdahl is “able to participate in the same on- and off-post opportunities as any other soldier,” Don Manuszewski, an Army North spokesman, said Monday.

Bergdahl has not commented publicly on the circumstances of his disappearance, and the Army has made no charges against him. The Army has said it is investigating Bergdahl’s disappearance and capture but that investigators will not interview him until those helping him recover say it is all right to do so.

Warren said he did not believe that Bergdahl had met with investigators, as of Monday.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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Discussion | 12 comments

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  • P.J.July 15, 2014 - 8:20 am

    Wait! Wouldn't his enlistment have ended while he was in the hands of the Taliban? $300,000? for 5 years? When did his enlistment end? I actually feel sorry for this man. I believe he will have no friends what so ever...normal soldier now? Please! With the accusations of his former Army allies, I do believe the Army does have a deserter on their hands!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • DanielJuly 15, 2014 - 8:48 am

    What's the game Obama is playing now?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJuly 15, 2014 - 12:19 pm

    Daniel, how about you tell us? I asked you to verify your comments, but as always you did not. Why? Because you can't! Credibility zero.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • MarkJuly 15, 2014 - 11:55 am

    Wonder how long until another solder frags Bergdahl? Solder's know he's a deserter and can't be counted on when the going gets tough.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJuly 15, 2014 - 12:12 pm

    Mark, there is no proof this man deserted or cannot be counted on. You can cite a lot of hearsay, but there is in fact, no evidence.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • DanielJuly 15, 2014 - 1:21 pm

    Amazing these liberals even defend a deserting scumbag, I bet you if he was a tea partier they be for the death penalty. I think every single one of these guys are so commuted to being hacks that they're completely now delusional. You have to be brain dead to declare that there's zero evidence of desertion, who do you believe one delusional hack like CD or his entire platoon whom was there physically present with him?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895July 15, 2014 - 1:45 pm

    Daniel: It's you who is the one that is "too far gone." But for our vast reading public, your error deserves a response. Liberals do not defend this individual. They defend due process, as should all Americans. Summary process is for the Taliban and their ilk.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • DanielJuly 15, 2014 - 1:37 pm

    Hey CD I say that you're so far gone that I bet you parrot that with Obamacare all Americans could keep their insurance, their own doctor and that their premium will go down by $2,500 per year. My question is how can you possibly that far gone out of touch when the policies affect every single non- politician American? Do you really have mental issues?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJuly 15, 2014 - 1:51 pm

    Daniel, I don't waste my time on people that can't back up their claims. Please bring me the evidence you know of. Please cite source and context for the other nonsense you brought the other day. You can't can you? Who's mentally ill now?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJuly 15, 2014 - 2:33 pm

    C'mon Daniel, just like Teach5th you dump nonsense then run away. Stop reacting badly when you get caught lying, man up. Stop embarrassing yourself here.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Teach5thJuly 15, 2014 - 6:31 pm

    I'm sorry, CD - you are an i*i*t! I'm not wasting time any more responding to your taunts. You don't believe in God, believe in abortion, and can't seem to understand that this country that I love is going down the t*il*t because of the likes of you. My 5th graders have more common sense than you. I hope you have a good rest of your life.:)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJuly 16, 2014 - 5:36 am

    Teach5th, I appreciate the sentiment but the country is in trouble because of folks like you. But that's okay I get it. Sadly you never will.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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