Bowe Bergdahl back in the US

2014-06-13 14:01
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. (AFP)

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. (AFP)

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Washington - Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant who has been recovering in Germany after five years as a Taliban captive, returned to the United States early on Friday to continue his medical treatment.

A Pentagon spokesperson, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Bergdahl was flown to Brooke Army Medical Centre in San Antonio from Ramstein Air Base.

While at the Texas Army base, Bergdahl "will continue the next phase of his reintegration process", Kirby said, adding there was no timeline for the process.

"Our focus remains on his health and well-being", he said. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel "is confident that the Army will continue to ensure that Bergdahl receives the care, time and space he needs to complete his recovery and reintegration", the spokesperson said in a statement.

The Idaho native was expected to be reunited with his family in San Antonio.

Criticism

 He was captured in Afghanistan in June 2009 and released by the Taliban on 31 May in a deal struck by the Obama administration in which five senior Taliban officials were released from detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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 US military control, any future promotions would depend on his performance and achievement of certain training and education milestones.

Officials have kept a lid on details of Bergdahl's condition out of concern that he not be rushed back into the public spotlight after a lengthy period in captivity and amid a public uproar over the circumstances of his capture and release.

Officials also said on Thursday that the Army has not yet formally begun a new review into the circumstances of Bergdahl's capture and whether he walked away without leave or was deserting the Army when he was found and taken by insurgents.

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.

Many have criticised the Obama administration for agreeing to release five Taliban prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl. Some of Bergdahl's former Army colleagues have accused him of deserting his post.

Critics also have said the five Taliban members could return to the battlefield. Administration officials have told Congress that four of the five Taliban officials likely will rejoin the fight.

In congressional testimony Wednesday, Hagel called the former Taliban government officials "enemy belligerents" but said they hadn't been implicated in any attacks against the United States.

He said Qatar, which has agreed to keep the five inside the country for a year, promised sufficient security measures to warrant making the swap for Bergdahl.
- AP
Read more on:    taliban  |  bowe bergdahl  |  barack obama  |  us  |  germany
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