Bergdahl back on regular duty

Sergeant, who spent 5 years as Taliban captive, ends his transition’s formal phase

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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 Sgt. Berg­dahl has been as­signed to U.S. Army North at Joint Base San An­tonio-Fort Sam Hous­ton in Texas.

Sgt. 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.

Sgt. 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 Sgt. 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 Sgt. Berg­dahl will col­lect the es­ti­mated $300,000 in back pay he has ac­cu­mu­lated over the past five years.

Sgt. 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 the Tal­i­ban 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 United States gave up five top Tal­i­ban com­mand­ers im­pris­oned at the mil­i­tary prison at Guan­tan­amo Bay, Cuba. The terms of the deal sparked a po­lit­i­cal storm in Wash­ing­ton.

Sgt. Berg­dahl’s ex­act ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties at U.S. Army North were not im­me­di­ately dis­closed, but a Pen­ta­gon spokes­man, Army Col. Steve War­ren, said he 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,” Col. War­ren said.

At the time of his dis­ap­pear­ance, Sgt. 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 Sgt. Berg­dahl de­lib­er­ately walked away, based on ev­i­dence avail­able at the time.

Sgt. 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. Col. War­ren said he did not be­lieve that Sgt. Berg­dahl has seen his par­ents since his re­turn to the United States. Army of­fi­cials have re­fused to dis­cuss the ques­tion of Sgt. Berg­dahl’s con­tact with his par­ents, say­ing the fam­ily re­quested that it be kept pri­vate.

Sgt. Berg­dahl has not com­mented pub­licly on the cir­cum­stances of his dis­ap­pear­ance, and the Army has made no charges against him. The Army has said that it is in­ves­ti­gat­ing his dis­ap­pear­ance and cap­ture, but that in­ves­ti­ga­tors will not in­ter­view him un­til those help­ing him re­cover say it is all right to do so. Col. War­ren said he did not be­lieve that Sgt. Berg­dahl had met with in­ves­ti­ga­tors as of Mon­day.

United States - North America - United States military - United States government - Texas - Taliban - San Antonio - U.S. Army - Bowe Bergdahl


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