News / USA

    Questions Surround Bergdahl's 2009 Disappearance in Afghanistan

    Questions Over US Soldier’s Disappearance Dampens Joy of His Returni
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    June 03, 2014 1:38 AM
    Nearly five years after he was taken prisoner by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is free. But as VOA's Jeff Seldin reports from the Pentagon, joy over his release has been tempered by new criticisms from the ranks of those who served.
    Related report by Jeff Seldin, "Questions Over US Soldier’s Disappearance Dampens Joy of His Return"
    Ken Bredemeier
    U.S. officials are defending the Taliban prisoner swap that freed an American prisoner of war in Afghanistan, but those who served with Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl said he willingly walked away from his post after becoming disillusioned with the U.S. war effort.
     
    Military personnel who knew Bergdahl, then 23, when he disappeared nearly five years ago said that while on guard duty, he left his weapons behind and walked off his post.

    Some said Bergdahl should have to answer for his actions.
     
    Reintegration of recovered military personnel

    The process used by the military to help recovered personnel return to normal life
    involves medical care, psychological support, debriefings and family support.

    It is carried out in three phases:

    - Phase 1: Initial Recovery - The returnee is given medical triage, psychological support and a tactical debriefing

    - Phase 2: Decompression Location - The returnee is moved to a regional hospital for at least 72 hours for more medical exams and debriefings

    - Phase 3: United States Base - The returnee is reunited with family and receives more medical care and final debriefings

    Source: U.S. Army
    Bergdahl was captured by Taliban insurgents in June 2009 and held until the United States won his freedom May 31 by agreeing to release five Taliban terrorism suspects held at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
     
    Military officials are confirming to news agencies that Bergdahl left his unit voluntarily, but said they do not know why.

    Bergdahl is undergoing medical tests in Germany before he returns to America for debriefings and a reunion with his family.
     
    U.S. soldiers who leave their posts without permission can face serious charges of desertion or being absent without leave. But U.S. officials said that is unlikely in Bergdahl's case, given his five years in captivity at the hands of the Taliban.
     
    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Bergdahl's health is most important at the moment and questions about his disappearance can wait.
     
    "Our first priority is assuring his well-being and his health and getting him reunited with his family. Other circumstances that may develop and questions, those will be dealt with later," said Hagel.

    Emails to parents cited
     
    A Rolling Stone magazine profile of his case in 2012 said an email he sent his parents in the western U.S. state of Idaho shortly before disappearing showed that he had become sharply disenchanted by the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan.

    The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to destroy Taliban military operations at the root of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
     
    Bergdahl profanely criticized some of the leaders of his Army unit and said the U.S. war was misguided.

    Bergdahl concluded, " I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of U.S. solider is just the lie of fools."
     
    But within a month, in a video released by the Taliban, Bergdahl sat on a floor eating a meal and acknowledged his fright in captivity.
     
    "Well, I am scared, I am scared I will not be able to go home. It is very unnerving to be a prisoner," he said.
     
    U.S. officials have not said when Bergdahl will return to his homeland.

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    Comments
         
    by: rick from: wv
    June 02, 2014 4:01 PM
    Although I believe the US should try it's best to return all POW's, these are some serious allegations which if true could do more than give obama a black eye. THe fact that they, Ms. Rice, cited the need to act immediatley and circumvent the congress on health reasons seems to have no merit. Add that to the questions and obama might have just sealed the fate of the US to be republican and we all lose. He best hope that he is 100% right this time or there will be repercussions...like impeachment.

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