SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl returns to the United States early Friday after his release from Taliban’s captivity five years in prison. He was released in a controversial prisoner swap with the Taliban.
Bergdahl will be confined at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio for his reintegration process, Pentagon spokesman Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
“Our focus remains on his health and well-being,” Kirby said.
Bergdahl would be spending time with his family for further recuperation. There is no indication when his family arrives at the Army base.
In a statement released, early Friday by Idaho National Guard, Bergdahl’s family asks for privacy while preparing to see their son.
“While the Bergdahls are overjoyed that their son has returned to the United States, Mr. and Mrs. Bergdahl don’t intend to make any travel plans public,” spokesman Col. Tim Marsano said.
It was advised by Army officials that there will be no media inside the base or in the hospital. Meanwhile, a news conference will be held Friday afternoon at a nearby golf course.
In the meantime, Bergdahl’s condition won’t be disclosed to public about his captivity, and amid a public uproar over his capture and release.
The Idaho native was captured in Afghanistan in June 2009 and was released by the Taliban on May 31, in a deal struck by the Obama administration, in exchange of five senior Taliban prisoners who were detained in Guantanamo, Cuba.
The Army has not formally been conducting a new review about Bergdahl’s capture as to whether he walked away without leave or was deserting his fellow soldiers when he was found and taken by the insurgents.
In a statement Friday, the Army said that after Bergdahl’s reintegration, it would “continue its comprehensive review into the circumstance of his disappearance and captivity.”
Likely, Bergdahl is whether to receive more than $300,000 in back pay owe to him by the Army since his disappearance. If and when he was a prisoner of war then he will receive another $300,000 or more, that would be determined by the Army.
Prior to his departure from Germany on Thursday, officials in Washington said Bergdahl would not receive automatic, from the Army, that would have taken effect this month if he was still in captivity. Now that he is officially back in the American soil under the U.S. military control, any future promotions would be dependent upon his performance and achievement of certain training and education.
Bergdahl had been at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany since June 1, after his released from captivity.
Many have criticized the Obama administration with regard to negotiation of the release of five Taliban prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl. Some of Bergdahl’s former Army colleagues 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.
Hagel also said Bergdahl was early in the process of recovering from the trauma of captivity.
Hagel said: “This guy was held for almost five years in God knows what kind of conditions. This is not just about can he get on his feet and walk and get to a plane.”