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Sgt. Bergdahl returning to active duty with admin job

Jul. 14, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Bowe Bergdahl to resume life as an Army soldier
Bowe Bergdahl to resume life as an Army soldier: Officials say Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has finished his therapy and counseling and will return to the Army. His disappearance while serving in Afghanistan is still under investigation.
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A sign hangs taped to the outside of a store window, one of the few public displays of support for freed Afghan POW Bowe Bergdahl on Sunday in Hailey, Idaho. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has completed a course of counseling at an Army hospital in Texas and is getting back to regular duty as a soldier, according to Army officials.

The former Taliban captive has been assigned to U.S. Army North Headquarters, as a noncommissioned officer performing administrative duties commensurate with his rank, according to Don Manuszewski, a spokesman for the command told Army Times.

Bergdahl will go through standard administrative in-processing for “a short time” before he starts work, Manuszewski said.

“He will get the training needed, if he doesn’t have it already,” Manuszewski said. “Our goal with his is not different from what it would be with any other soldier, to mentor him as he progresses in his career and make sure he is successful.”

Bergdahl has completed the final phase of the reintegration process under the control of U.S. Army South and was being assigned to U.S. Army North at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, according to an Army statement released Monday.

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

The development was first reported by CNN and The New York Times, citing unnamed defense officials.

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. Bergdahl, 28, has completed therapy and counseling at an Army hospital in San Antonio, and will be assigned at the same base, Fort Sam Houston.

Bergdahl will live in barracks and have two other soldiers help him readjust, the Times reported.

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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