By Brett Gillin
The interesting saga with Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl took another turn with the announcement that he is returning to active duty as early as today. Bergdahl, having completed the mandated therapy and counseling with the U.S. Army at a hospital in San Antonio, is now eligible to return to service, according to a defense official via CNN. According to the latest updates, he will be assigned a job on a Texas-based Army post at Fort Sam Houston where he can, according to an Army Statement return to “regular duty within the command where he can contribute to the mission.”
Bergdahl’s story captured national headlines after he went missing on June 30, 2009. Bergdahl, who was serving with the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, left his post in Afghanistan’s Pakika province. At first, officials did not know whether he left of his own volition or was captured by enemy combatants.
According to CNN, an Army investigation, launched after his disappearance, concluded that Bergdahl was not coerced into leaving his post or taken from his post forcefully. The investigation instead concluded that Bergdahl left his outpost “deliberately and of his own free will.”
This fact sent many in the armed forces and throughout the United States to cry out that Bergdahl was a traitor and a deserter. After leaving his post, Bergdahl spent nearly five years being held captive by Taliban-aligned forces. Then, on May 31, 2014, Bergdahl was released from captivity as a part of a prisoner exchange which saw five alleged Taliban members freed from their captivity at Guantanamo Bay.
The exchange further fueled debate of Bergdahl’s status as a deserter or traitor. Many across the internet and dozens of media outlets questioned the release of five alleged enemy combatants in order to get back what they considered to be a traitor. Senator Carl Levin, in a release seemingly aimed at quieting these arguments, stated that each of the Joint Chiefs of Staff supported the exchange.
“Each of these military leaders emphasized a simple principle – America does not leave its troops behind,” Levin stated via a press release. “The unanimous support of the Joint Chiefs for securing Sergeant 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.”
Now, with Bergdahl eligible to return to active duty, much of the focus is being placed upon Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, who is leading the formal investigation into Bergdahl. According to CNN, Dahl will review the previous findings of the investigation, and has the right to re-interview anyone in the case for additional information. One official told CNN that talking directly to Bergdahl would most likely be the last step in the investigation.