The Pentagon issued a statement over the weekend that indicated an improvement in Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s medical condition.
As a result, the soldier from the Wood River Valley may soon be questioned on details about his disappearance five years ago from a military base in Afghanistan. No date has been set for his return to Idaho from Texas.
The statement said that Bergdahl’s medical status had changed from inpatient care at Brooke Army Medical Center to continued reintegration and medical care as an outpatient on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
“His reintegration process continues with exposure to more people and a gradual increase of social interactions,” the news release states. “Debriefings and counseling from Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) psychologists continue to ensure he progresses to the point where he can return to duty. The specifics of his location will not be shared with the public in order to safeguard the reintegration process.”
According to CNN, Bergdahl is the seventh person to go through the reintegration process, which usually results in captives returning to their jobs and families within a week to 10 days.
“He [Bergdahl] is getting more exposure to the news, more social interactions and more counseling … to help him reintegrate back into society in America,” said CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr on Sunday.
“If he is able to return to duty, that does open the door very likely to him undergoing questioning from military investigators who want to know how he left his base back in 2009 in Afghanistan, and exactly what happened,” Starr said.
Bergdahl grew up and worked in Blaine County before joining the military. He went missing from his military base on June 30, 2009, in Afghanistan’s Paktika province, where he was deployed with the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. He was taken captive by affiliates of the Taliban.
He was released on May 31 in a prisoner exchange for five high-level Taliban leaders who had been held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“If he is able to return to duty, that does open the door very likely to him undergoing questioning from military investigators.”
The prisoner swap set off a cascade of negative comments toward Bergdahl and his family, which led to cancellation of a coming-home party for the soldier planned for this weekend in Hailey.
Details from Bergdahl’s diary that were released earlier this month to The Washington Post indicate that he may have been mentally ill at the time. A 2010 Rolling Stone magazine story by Michael Hastings, detailing emails between Bergdahl and his father, suggests that the soldier left his post in protest.
The military appointed Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl as head of the Bergdahl investigation, which will take place when Bergdahl’s reintegration team approves.
Dahl holds a master’s degree in social psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a master’s in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College. He also served as a National Security Fellow in the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, according to his Army biography.
Dahl is deputy commanding general of 1st Corps at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington state. He served as deputy commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division in southern Afghanistan in 2010-12, and returned in 2012 as a deputy commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan.