Few details have emerged regarding the health and status of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl after his return from a five-year captivity with the Taliban. He is known to be in stable condition and has spoken of his captivity, but the details emerging from his recovery indicate he has a long road to reintegrating into society. CNN is reporting that among the problems that Bergdahl is having returning to the West is his refusal to accept his military promotion.
Bergdahl has asked to be addressed as Private First Class, according to sources, as he was promoted to sergeant while in captivity. “In his mind, he’s a Pfc,” an official with knowledge of Bergdahl’s current status told CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr.
Bergdahl’s refusal to accept his new title is consistent with other updates on his status, none of which have offered any sort of timeline for him to return to the United States. Officials in Landstuhl, Germany, where Bergdahl is being treated say that he appears to be improving physically and is in stable condition; however, he is “not ready psychologically or emotionally” to return to the United States. He has told those with whom he interacts in the hospital that the Taliban kept him locked in a cage for extended periods of time.
The Obama administration’s decision to trade five high-ranking Taliban members imprisoned at the United States’ facility in Guantánamo Bay for Bergdahl has been the subject of much controversy, as evidence suggests that Bergdahl deliberately walked away from his camp and towards Taliban strongholds the night he disappeared. Reportedly, veterans are particularly opposed to the decision; according to a new USA Today poll, 68% of veterans surveyed said the trade was the wrong decision. Reports indicate not only that Bergdahl purposefully left his camp, but that in 2010, he converted to Islam under the auspices of the Taliban and declared jihad.
Six soldiers died on missions either confirmed or believed to have been involved in the search for Bergdahl; no estimates have been made of the number of American lives lost searching for and capturing the five Taliban leaders now free.