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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