Bowe Bergdahl ‘looked good’ in returning to US, Army says

Bowe Bergdahl’s family has not joined him since he arrived at Fort Sam Houston on Friday.
US Army via The New York Times
Bowe Bergdahl’s family has not joined him since he arrived at Fort Sam Houston on Friday.

SAN ANTONIO — Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl ‘‘looked good’’ after arriving back in the United States and is working with health professionals after being held by the Taliban for five years in Afghanistan, military officials said Friday.

Bergdahl’s family has not joined him since he arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston after midnight Friday, and Army officials would not say when relatives might show up.

Major General Joseph P. DiSalvo said during a news conference Friday that Bergdahl was in stable condition, ‘‘looked good,’’ and showed ‘‘good comportment’’ after being transported to Texas from an Army medical facility in Germany.


‘‘The reintegration of Sergeant Bergdahl is comprehensive. There is no set timeline,’’ said DiSalvo, who will be in charge of that process.

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As far as Bergdahl’s interaction with relatives, Colonel Bradley Poppen, an Army psychologist, said a soldier typically determines when to reunite with his or her family. Poppen declined to release further details, citing the family’s request for privacy.

Military officials declined to give details on what Bergdahl might remember about his capture or what he knows about the public uproar surrounding his capture and release.

A three-vehicle convoy greeted Bergdahl at Fort Sam shortly after midnight Friday. Officials said he was able to walk on his own and appeared ‘‘a little nervous,’’ as they said any sergeant would be when greeted by a two-star general. In the short time he has been back on US soil, Bergdahl has been on a bland diet and has shown a fondness for peanut butter, they said.

Bergdahl also arrived speaking English, though officials indicated his speech had been affected by being in captivity for so long. ‘‘Overall, our assessment is that he did not have the opportunity the past five years to practice and speak his English,’’ said Colonel Ronald Wood, who is in charge of Bergdahl’s medical care.


Army officials briefed the media at a golf course near Fort Sam Houston and said no reporters would be allowed onto the base or in the hospital.

Officials have kept a lid on Bergdahl’s condition out of concern that he not be rushed back into the public spotlight.

The Idaho native 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.

The Army has not 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 insurgents.

In a statement Friday, the Army said that after Bergdahl’s reintegration it would ‘‘continue its comprehensive review into the circumstances of his disappearance and captivity.’’


The answers to those questions will be key to whether Bergdahl 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.

Before his departure from Germany on Thursday, officials in Washington said Bergdahl would 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 promotions would depend on his performance and achievement of certain training and education milestones.

Bergdahl had been at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center since June 1, the day after the prisoner exchange.

Many have criticized the Obama administration for agreeing to release the Taliban prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl. Some of Bergdahl’s former Army colleagues have accused him of deserting his post.