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Freed US soldier Bergdahl arrives in US

Bowe Bergdahl, held by the Taliban since 2009, reaches Texas, as letters shed light on his mental state before capture.

Last updated: 13 Jun 2014 07:52
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Letters have emerged this week suggesting Bergdahl was in a troubled state of mind during his deployment [AP]

Bowe Bergdahl, the army sergeant who spent five years as a Taliban captive, has arrived in the United States.

Bergdahl arrived in San Antonio on Friday and has made his way to the Brooke Army Medical Centre after spending two weeks recovering in Langstuhl, Germany.

Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said on Thursday that the US army would ensure that Bergdahl's needs would be attended to.

"Our first priority is making sure that Sergeant Bergdahl continues to get the care and support he needs," Kirby said in a statement announcing Bergdahl's departure from Germany.

Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan in June 2009 and released by the Taliban on May 31 in a deal struck by the Obama administration in which five senior Taliban officials were released from detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Officials in Washington said on Thursday that the army has not yet formally begun a new review into the circumstances of Bergdahl's capture and whether he walked away without leave or was deserting the army when he was found and taken by fighters.

They said that Bergdahl will not receive the automatic army promotion that would have taken effect this month if he were still in captivity.

Now that he is back in US military control, any future promotions would depend on his performance and achievement of certain training and education milestones, the officials said.

Lacking confidence 

Letters and other correspondence emerged this week suggesting Bergdahl was in a troubled state of mind before and during his deployment, and that he lacked confidence in his superiors.

"Leadership was lacking, if not non-existent," he wrote in a letter sent to family during his time in captivity that was obtained by the Daily Beast website.

The letter, one of two sent to Bergdahl's family via the International Committee of the Red Cross, is marked by numerous spelling errors.

"The conditions were bad and looked to be getting worse for the men that where actuly [sic] the ones risking thier [sic] lives from attack," he wrote in a March 23, 2013 letter.

Officials have kept a lid on details of Bergdahl's condition 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.

The answers to the questions over Bergdahl's actions will be key to whether he will receive more than $300,000 in back pay owed to him since he disappeared.

If he was determined to have been a prisoner of war, he also could receive roughly another $300,000 or more, if recommended and approved by army leaders.

Many have criticised the Obama administration for agreeing to release the Taliban prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl.

Critics have also said the five Taliban members, who must now stay in Qatar, which helped broker the deal, for one year, could return to the battlefield.

Administration officials have told Congress that four of the five Taliban members are likely to rejoin the fight.

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Source:
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