WASHINGTON — Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant who has been recuperating in Germany after being released from five years of Taliban captivity, is scheduled to arrive at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas on Friday, a defence official said.
The official, who spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been publicly announced, declined to provide details. Officials had previously said the intention was for Bergdahl to be reunited with his family at Brooke and to spend an undetermined period there in further recuperation.
Officials have kept a lid on details of Bergdahl’s condition and his travel plans out of concern that he not be rushed back into the public spotlight after a lengthy period in captivity and amid a public uproar over the circumstances of his capture and release.
Bergdahl was released from Taliban captivity on May 31 and has been at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany since June 1.
He was deployed in eastern Afghanistan when he disappeared in June 2009.
Many have criticized the Obama administration for agreeing to release five Taliban prisoners from detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Bergdahl. Some of Bergdahl’s former Army colleagues have accused him of deserting his post.
Republicans and Democrats questioned the wisdom of releasing the five Taliban members, saying they could return to the battlefield. Administration officials have told Congress that four of the five Taliban officials will likely rejoin the fight.
In congressional testimony Wednesday, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel called the former Taliban government officials “enemy belligerents” but said they hadn’t been implicated in any attacks against the United States. He said Qatar, which has promised to keep the five inside the country for a year, promised sufficient security measures to warrant making the swap for Bergdahl.
Hagel also said Bergdahl was early in the process of recovering from the trauma of captivity. He said that process began with his arrival at Landstuhl on June 1.
“He’s being held there because our medical professionals don’t believe he’s ready. … This isn’t just about a physical situation,” Hagel said. “This guy was held for almost five years in God knows what kind of conditions. … This is not just about can he get on his feet and walk and get to a plane.”
Bergdahl has not made any public comment since his release, and Pentagon officials say there is no timeline for arranging his initial contact with the news media.