WASHINGTON — Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has reported for duty at a new command after finishing the “reintegration” treatment designed to help him recover from nearly five years in Taliban captivity, the Army announced Monday.
Although precisely what his new job will be hasn’t been announced, a spokesman for U.S. Army North said he’d be doing the type of normal administrative duty that would generally be given to a junior NCO.
Bergdahl, who was captured as a private first class but promoted to sergeant before his May 31 release, will be moving into junior NCO quarters, said Don Manuszewski, a spokesman for Army North. He’ll serve alongside other soldiers in the command and will be able to move on and off base freely, Manuszewski said.
“Our goal really is to ensure a smooth transition for him as he returns to duty in this command,” he said. “We value every soldier.”
Army North provides land forces to U.S. Northern Command for homeland defense, disaster relief and other operations. Its headquarters, where Bergdahl will work, are at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas — the same base where Bergdahl underwent outpatient treatment to help him transition back from captivity.
How smoothly Bergdahl integrates into daily life with other soldiers remains to be seen. Members of his former unit, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska, have blasted him for allegedly deserting his remote outpost in Paktika province in June 2009. A number of them have said his actions lead to deaths and injuries of other soldiers in searches and other operations resulting from his disappearance.
But defense officials have pushed back against such charges. In defending the deal to trade five senior Taliban captives at the Guantanamo Bay prison for Bergdahl, but Hagel told Congress he’d seen no evidence linking U.S. combat deaths to the search for the missing American.
The circumstances surrounding the 2009 disappearance are the subject of an investigation by Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl. Now that he has completed the reintegration process, Bergdahl can be interviewed by Army investigators, but Pentagon officials said Monday that an interview hadn’t yet taken place.
If found to have intentionally left his post, Bergdahl could face administrative or criminal punishments, and could lose hundreds of thousands in back pay and potential prisoner of war benefits