Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Returns To Active Duty In The Middle Of His Investigation
On Monday, the U.S. Army confirmed that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is returning to active duty, having completed reintegration treatment following his retrieval from terrorist captors in Afghanistan in May. Bergdahl was saved through a prisoner swap with the Haqqani network, a Taliban-allied Islamic militant group, which demanded the release of five Guantanamo Bay detainees in exchange for the American captive. The exchange has become a point of political contention since its execution, due in large part to suspicion that Bergdahl was captured while deserting his unit.
There's no conclusive evidence to say that he did, but a 2010 Pentagon investigation into Bergdahl's disappearance did find that he left his base of his own volition, according to the AP. But that doesn't necessarily equal an act of desertion — without the Army being able to interview him, determining motive was a tricky business. Now that he's back in the fold, however, his side of the story will be available to investigators, and will hopefully shine some light on the fateful night of July 30, 2009.
It's both a relevant question for whether Bergdahl will be punished, and also for his wallet — if he's ruled a "prisoner of war," he may have a cool, tax-free $350,000 coming to him, according to Fox News.
The current investigation into his disappearance, headed up by Major General Kenneth Dahl, will continue even as Bergdahl transitions back into regular military life. USA Today reports that he'll be given an administrative job at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
But with his fate hanging in the balance — both before the court of public opinion, and the military — he'll still finally be able to enjoy the everyday American life he'd lost while captured. According to MSNBC, he'll be entirely free to leave Sam Houston Fort when he's off duty, without any supervising military escort, and do whatever it is that he missed most during that long five-year imprisonment — maybe grab a cheeseburger and hit up the nearby Malibu Castle mini-golf course? It's all up to him, and that's a sentence you couldn't have said about Bergdahl for a long while.
It's got to be a jarring homecoming, given the political tumult that his release has brought, so hopefully people will be respectful to him while the Army's investigation marches onward. They've clearly made the decision that he's fit to return to duty, at least working behind a desk, and that his personal time can be well and truly his.
It's possible that, eventually, if the investigation proves that he did deliberately desert his unit, we'll have a reason to look side-eyed at Bowe Bergdahl. But right now, this rescued soldier is getting another chance at a normal life. Not everybody is thrilled about this, though — the family of deceased 2nd Lt. Darryn Andrews, who believe the search for Bergdahl was to blame for his death, have voiced outrage over the decision.
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