President Obama exchanged five Taliban leaders for U.S. Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, but it’s “too soon” to determine if the soldier will return to his Army unit.
“It’s still too soon to determine that,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warre told reporters, according to the Armed Forces Press Service. AFPS added that the question of a return “isn’t under consideration at this time.”
It’s perfectly understandable that Bergdahl might not return to his unit after five years of captivity by the Taliban, but the question is a little more charged in light of accusations that he deserted his unit.
“A Pentagon investigation concluded in 2010 that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his unit, and after an initial flurry of searching the military decided not to exert extraordinary efforts to rescue him,” the Washington Post reported.
Soldiers who served with Bergdahl have reiterated that charge since the news of his release broke on Saturday.
“According to firsthand accounts from soldiers in his platoon, Bergdahl, while on guard duty, shed his weapons and walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera and a diary,” CNN’s Jake Tapper wrote.
“At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl,” Tapper reported, “and many soldiers in his platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika province in the days and weeks following his disappearance.”
President Obama’s spokesman wouldn’t say if the administration has determined if Bergdahl was a deserter. “You’re citing a circumstance with a lot of ifs attached to it,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said during Monday’s press briefing.