Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bergdahl returns to active duty

Investigation into 2009 disappearance to continue

Express Staff Writer

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

    U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey has been returned to active military duty in San Antonio, Texas, marking the end of his reintegration process after five years of captivity.
    “He is a normal soldier now,” said Army Col. Steve Warren.
    Bergdahl is not restricted in any way, Warren said.
    Bergdahl was given an “administrative” job at U.S. Army North, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, which will make him available to Army investigators for questioning about his disappearance in 2009.
    Bergdahl went missing from his post in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan in late June 2009. He was subsequently captured by Taliban forces and held until he was released in May.
    Questions linger as to whether Bergdahl willingly left his post, was captured while on patrol, or wound up in Taliban captivity in some other way. An investigation to establish the facts is set to begin when Bergdahl’s reintegration team deems appropriate.

He is a normal soldier now.”
Col. Steve Warren
U.S. Army

    The investigation will be led by Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl.
    The Wall Street Journal reported that Bergdahl has retained a private lawyer, although the military has been asked not to release the name of the attorney.
    The Pentagon reported recently that there is no evidence that the soldier is guilty of any misconduct while being held by the Taliban.
    Bergdahl, who grew up in Blaine County and worked at a gun club, café and other locations in the Wood River Valley, was released from captivity on May 31 in a prisoner exchange that also freed five high-level Taliban leaders from a U.S. military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
    The prisoner swap led to a storm of political controversy, and cancellation of a coming-home party scheduled for last month in Hailey.
     Critics of the prisoner exchange claim that although the Taliban leaders are under house arrest in Qatar, they could eventually re-join the fight against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
    The Obama administration was accused of completing the prisoner exchange without approval of legislators.    
    Army officials have refused to discuss the question of Bergdahl’s contact with his parents, saying the family requested that it be kept quiet, the Associated Press reported.
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