Here Comes the Army Investigation Into Bowe Bergdahl’s Capture

Don’t expect any fast answers.

National Journal
Billy House
June 16, 2014, 10:05 a.m.

The Army says it has launched an in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing how and why Army Sgt. Bowe Ber­g­dahl dis­ap­peared from his base in Afgh­anistan in 2009.

Maj. Gen. Ken­neth Dahl, an Army of­ficer with Afgh­anistan com­bat ex­per­i­ence, will lead the ef­fort — but the Army says that will not in­clude form­al ques­tion­ing of Ber­g­dahl him­self, at least not right away.

“The in­vest­ig­at­ing of­ficer will not in­ter­view Sgt. Ber­g­dahl un­til the re­in­teg­ra­tion team clears such in­ter­ac­tion, so no timeline for com­ple­tion of the in­vest­ig­a­tion has been set,” the Army state­ment of­fers.

Ber­g­dahl, 28, went miss­ing on June 30, 2009, in Afgh­anistan’s Pak­tika province, where his bat­talion was de­ployed. He spent five years in cap­tiv­ity un­til his re­lease on May 31, in a con­tro­ver­sial ex­change by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion for five Taliban pris­on­ers trans­ferred from the U.S. pris­on at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The ad­min­is­tra­tion says that con­cerns about Ber­g­dahl’s de­teri­or­at­ing health played a role in its think­ing.

Ber­g­dahl was trans­por­ted from a mil­it­ary hos­pit­al last Fri­day and taken to an Army med­ic­al fa­cil­ity in San Ant­o­nio, Texas. In a state­ment re­leased Monday an­noun­cing the in­vest­ig­a­tion, the Army did not make any men­tion of earli­er pre­lim­in­ary fact-find­ing ef­forts that in­dic­ated Ber­dahl had left his post de­lib­er­ately.

But the state­ment does say that Dahl and his in­vest­ig­at­ive team “will have ac­cess to pre­vi­ously gathered doc­u­ment­ary evid­ence, in­clud­ing the 2009 in­vest­ig­a­tion.”

“The primary func­tion of this in­vest­ig­a­tion, as in any oth­er in­vest­ig­a­tion, is to as­cer­tain facts and re­port them to the ap­point­ing au­thor­ity,” the state­ment adds. But it says, “The Army’s top pri­or­ity re­mains Sgt. Ber­g­dahl’s health and re­in­teg­ra­tion. We ask that every­one re­spect the time and pri­vacy ne­ces­sary to ac­com­plish the ob­ject­ives of the last phase of re­in­teg­ra­tion.”

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