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A sign hangs taped to the outside of a store window, one of the few public displays of support for freed Afghan POW Bowe Bergdahl on July 13 in Hailey, Idaho. / Scott Olson, Getty Images

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahll is returning to "regular duty," a status change that means investigators can now question him about the circumstances that led to his disappearance and capture by insurgents in Afghanistan.

Bergdahl was released from Taliban captivity May 31 in a trade for five Taliban commanders held at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They were released to the government of Qatar, where they must stay for a year.

Bergdahl has been accused by fellow soldiers of walking off his post without permission and the Army has launched an investigation, headed by Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, into the circumstances of Bergdahl's disappearance.

"Whenever Maj. Gen. Dahl is ready to speak with Sgt. Bergdahl he will do so," said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

The Army had earlier completed an investigation into Bergdahl's disappearance, which remains classified, that relied on witnesses and other evidence. Investigators could not question Bergdahl in detail about his disappearance and captivity until his health had been restored and the reintegration process had been completed.

Bergdahl was held captive by the Taliban for nearly five years after he went missing from his post in Afghanistan in 2009. As part of the reintegration process Bergdahl, 28, received therapy and counseling at an Army hospital in San Antonio, and will be assigned to the same base, Fort Sam Houston.

"He will now return to regular duty within the command where he can contribute to the mission," an Army statement said. "The Army investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the disappearance and capture of Bergdahl is still ongoing."

Bergdahl's new assignment will be "commensurate" with his rank, said Don Manuszewski, a spokesman for the Army in San Antonio. Bergdahl was promoted while in captivity.

He will be assigned administrative duties at the headquarters of U.S. Army North at Fort Sam Houston, the Army said.

A couple of soldiers will be assigned to help him transition to his new unit, as is customary for soldiers adjusting to a new unit, and will be assigned to a regular army barracks, the Army said.

"He'll have members of his unit working with him on a daily basis," said Col.Scott Bleichwehl, a spokesman for U.S. Army North. "This is what we do for every new soldier that comes to the unit."

Bergdahl's return to service comes after the Obama administration drew sharp rebukes from many Republicans - and even some Democrats - in Congress for making the swap. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been among those who expressed concern that the Guantanamo Bay detainees could return to the battlefield in Afghanistan and even kill Americans.

Last week Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee, released letters from the Joint Chiefs expressing support for Bergdahl's "repatriation."

"Each of these military leaders emphasized a simple principle - America does not leave its troops behind," Levin said in a statement. "The unanimous support of the Joint Chiefs for securing Sgt. Bergdahl's release is a powerful statement on the importance of that commitment. I give great weight to their views, and I believe it's important for the American people to hear them."

The Army said Bergdahl has elected not to discuss his case publicly or release information about his communications with his family.

Contributing: John Bacon, Kim Hjelmgaard



Copyright 2014USA TODAY

Read the original story: Former captive Bergdahl returning to regular duty

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