Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the Army Sergeant at the center of a controversial prisoner swap, could return to active duty today, according to a report from CNN. the soldier, who had been undergoing counseling and therapy at an Army medical facility in San Antonio, is apparently ready to return to active duty. Bergdahl was held as a hostage by militants in Afghanistan for five years before being released in May.
Bergdahl went missing in June of 2009, in Afghanistan’s Paktika province. The original investigation into his disappearance, which was conducted in the months immediately following the incident, concluded that Bergdahl left his post deliberately. Though the case has been reopened, the original report’s conclusions have had a huge effect on the narrative surrounding the prisoner swap.
Bergdahl returns to “regular duty”
After five years in the hands of Taliban militants it seems unlikely that Bergdahl will be able to return to anything like “regular duty,” but a statement from the Army says that he will rejoin his unit in Texas and do just that. According to the statement, Bergdahl will spend a period readjusting to Army life and will have two soldiers assigned to him in order to help him make the transition.
Bergdahl returned from Afghanistan after a prisoner swap in May, and has spent the last three weeks receiving outpatient treatment in a Texan Military hospital. Army officials have interviewed him several times about his time in captivity in Afghanistan. Maj. Gen. Kenneth R. Dahl, the officer in charge of the investigation into Bergdahl’s disappearance, is said to be planning an interview during the period of acclimatization.
Bergdahl was deployed with the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division when he went missing in Afghanistan, but it’s not clear whether he will return to the same outfit at the Texan military base.
Bergdahl becomes political football
The prisoner swap that saw Sgt. Bergdahl return to his family after half a decade in imprisonment has become a controversial issue and has landed the soldier and his family at the heart of a political rift. An investigation into the circumstances surrounding his disappearance is ongoing, but the conclusions of many commentators have been delineated along party lines.
According to critics of the prisoner swap, which involved the return of Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban prisoners held by the United States, the Sergeant was attempting to desert when he was captured and put his fellow soldiers in danger by forcing them to search for him. The exchange has also been criticized as showing weakness and demonstrating that America will, in fact, negotiate with terrorists. Those who oppose the swap have suggested that the precedent may increase the threat level for Americans serving abroad.
Those who agree with the exchange, who include Senator Carl Levin, say that on principle America should not abandon its troops to their fate. Levin secured messages of support for the prisoner exchange from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to bolster his case.