Former captive Bergdahl returning to regular duty

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has completed the final phase of his reintegration at an Army hospital in Texas and will return to "regular duty," the Army confirmed Monday.

Bergdahl was released from Taliban captivity May 31 in a controversial trade that resulted in handing over five Taliban detainees to the government of Qatar in return for his freedom.

Bergdahl was held captive by the Taliban for nearly five years after he went missing from his post in Afghanistan in 2009. As part of the reintegration process Bergdahl, 28, received therapy and counseling at an Army hospital in San Antonio, and will be assigned at the same base, Fort Sam Houston.

"He will now return to regular duty within the command where he can contribute to the mission," an Army statement said. "The Army investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the disappearance and capture of Bergdahl is still ongoing."

Bergdahl's new assignment will be "commensurate" with his rank, said Don Manuszewski, a spokesman for the Army in San Antonio. Bergdahl was promoted while in captivity.

His new responsibilities at Fort Sam Houston will involve mainly administrative tasks at the headquarters unit on the post, he said.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl has been assigned to investigate Bergdahl's disappearance from his outpost in Afghanistan in 2009. The Army had said, however, that the investigation would have to wait until Bergdahl's health had improved.

An Army fact-finding investigation conducted in the months after Bergdahl's disappearance concluded he walked away from his post of his own free will, CNN reported, citing an official who was shown the report.

But the report said there was no definitive conclusion Bergdahl was a deserter because that would require knowing his intent — something officials couldn't learn without talking to him, a U.S. military official has said.

Bergdahl's return to service comes after the Obama administration drew sharp rebukes from many Republicans — and even some Democrats — in Congress for making the swap. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had been among those who expressed concern that the Guantanamo Bay detainees released in the Bergdahl deal could return to the battlefield and even kill Americans.

Last week Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who heads the Armed Services Committee, released letters from each of Joint Chiefs expressing support for Bergdahl's "repatriation."

"Each of these military leaders emphasized a simple principle — America does not leave its troops behind," Levin said in a statement. "The unanimous support of the Joint Chiefs for securing Sgt. Bergdahl's release is a powerful statement on the importance of that commitment. I give great weight to their views, and I believe it's important for the American people to hear them."


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