Bergdahl Back In The U.S. To Continue Recovery
by Krishnadev Calamur
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdhal, who was freed May 31 by his Taliban captors in exchange for five of the group's members in Guantanamo Bay, arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio Friday after a flight from Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
He will continue his treatment at the center.
Bergdahl, who was held by the Taliban for five years, has not yet spoken to his parents. But they are expected to have a reunion at the facility in San Antonio. He's been at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany since the day after his release.
Here's more from The Associated Press:
"Before his departure from Germany on Thursday, officials in Washington said Bergdahl will not receive the automatic Army promotion that would have taken effect this month if he were still in captivity. Now that he is back in U.S. military control, any future promotions would depend on his performance and achievement of certain training and education milestones."
The circumstances of Bergdahl's capture in 2009 are still unclear. As we've reported, "He's said that he lagged behind while on patrol. U.S. officials have said he walked off the base with three Afghans; there have been reports that he was captured during an attack on his post; and the Taliban have said they captured a 'drunken American soldier.' Many service members say they believe Bergdahl is a deserter."
The Army has said it hasn't formally begun a review of Bergdahl's capture. The AP notes, "The answers to those questions will be key to whether Bergdahl will receive more than $300,000 in back pay owed to him since he disappeared. If he was determined to have been a prisoner of war, he also could receive roughly another $300,000 or more, if recommended and approved by Army leaders."
Congressional critics say that the cost of Bergdahl's freedom was too high, and that the Taliban prisoners may end up back on the battlefield. The Obama administration has not disputed that assertion, but noted that Qatar, which mediated the deal with the Taliban, had provided assurances that the five men will remain in the country for one year, and given additional security guarantees.
At a news conference in San Antonio on Friday afternoon, Maj. Gen. Joseph P. DiSalvo said he'd seen Bergdahl for "about 60 seconds. He was in uniform. ... We exchanged salutes. "He appeared just like any sergeant would when he saw a two-star general — a little nervous," DiSalvo said.
The general said Bergdahl's family was not at the hospital and that his parents do not intend to make their travel plans public for reasons of privacy.
Col. Donald Wool said of Bergdahl's condition: "Overall, we're pleased with his physical state."
Asked whether Bergdahl wanted to return to duty, Col. Bradley Poppen, a specialist on reintegration, said: "The goal of reintegration is to return a soldier to duty."