Ex-POW Bowe Bergdahl Returns to Military Duty

Ex-POW Bowe Bergdahl Returns to Military Duty

(AFP) An American soldier who was held captive by Afghan insurgents for nearly five years returned to regular military duty Monday and will be taking a “desk job,” the Pentagon said.

Following his release on May 31 in a swap with the Taliban, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl underwent medical exams and counseling at a military hospital in San Antonio, Texas, to prepare him for “reintegration” into the army.

Bergdahl will be assigned to Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in Texas, where he will be handling “administrative-type” work, the Pentagon said.

Bergdahl remains the subject of a military investigation into the circumstances of his disappearance and capture, he said.

There has long been speculation that Bergdahl may have deserted his post, with some soldiers in his unit alleging he walked away alone.

The 28-year-old soldier has yet to speak to the media since his release and army officials acknowledged they provided him with advice on dealing with reporters, which they said was standard practice for former prisoners of war.

Bergdahl, the only American in uniform to be held by insurgents in the Afghanistan war, spent nearly five years in captivity at the hands of Taliban-linked Haqqani insurgents after he went missing from his post in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border in June 2009.

During his time at the Texas military hospital, counselors tried to help Bergdahl shift away from a prisoner’s survival mentality, officials said.

Bergdahl was now free to move about as other soldiers without special restrictions and will be paid regular wages according to his rank, officials said.

– Swap sparked controversy –

President Barack Obama has come under intense criticism from some lawmakers over the swap that freed Bergdahl.

Republicans say the administration made a dangerous concession by agreeing to the transfer of five senior Taliban figures to Qatar from the US-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

They say the White House failed to consult with Congress before agreeing the deal and that the transfer of the Taliban detainees would put the United States at risk.

Lawmakers also have held hearings focused on the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s disappearance.

Soldiers who deployed alongside Bergdahl have alleged he was frustrated during his deployment and planned to walk off the base.

Former army specialist Cody Full, who served in the same squad in Blackfoot Company as Bergdahl, told lawmakers last month that he was a conflicted soldier who carried out a “pre-meditated” plan.

Bergdahl was a “good soldier” during training in California, but shortly after arriving in Afghanistan he started complaining about the way missions were conducted, Full said.

The Obama administration has defended its handling of the case, saying the government has an obligation to bring all US soldiers home and that an investigation will show if Bergdahl violated his orders or duties.

Some retired soldiers have alleged that several troops died in search efforts for Bergdahl, but the Pentagon has said there is no evidence to support that charge.