The Army has begun its investigation into the events surrounding the disappearance of U.S. soldier Bowe Bergahl.
Maj. Gen. Kenneth R. Dahl, a two-star general, will lead the investigation into what happened leading up to Bergdahl’s capture by militants in Eastern Afghanistan. He was rescued from five years of Taliban captivity on May 31.
“The primary function of this investigation, as in any other investigation, is to ascertain facts and report them to the appointing authority,” a statement from the US Army read. The Army stressed that investigations like this are common, and said that Bergdahl will not be interviewed until he is cleared by the team in charge of his prisoner of war reintegration process. He is currently being treated at a military hospital in San Antonio, Texas, where he is likely to stay for several weeks.
On Friday, Bergdahl’s parents released a statement on Friday through the Idaho National Guard saying they were “overjoyed” to have their son back and asking for privacy while he recovers from the trauma of captivity. The family has avoided the spotlight since the Rose Garden announcement of Bergdahl’s rescue.
While Bergdahl was recovering in a military hospital in Germany, the New York Times reported that a classified military report completed two months after he disappeared noted that Bergdahl had wandered away before the time he was captured but had come back. The same report said it was likely that Berghal, now 28, intentionally walked away from his post in Afghanistan before he was captured. Whether Bergdahl left the base with the intent to return could affect what sort of charges he would face if authorities decide he should be court-martialed.
Members of Congress have criticized President Obama for not informing them in advance that he planned to swap five members of the Taliban being held at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl. The law requires that Congress be given 30 days notice before any prisoners are transferred out of Guantanamo Bay. Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor for America’s office of military commissions, told reporters Sunday that none of the Taliban prisoners released in the deal could have been prosecuted for any crimes.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Obama have both defended the deal. Obama responded to Republican criticism by saying he would make “no apologies” for the deal. At a Congressional hearing on June 11, Hagel said that while the administration “could have done a better job” keeping of keeping lawmakers informed, the deal was the right thing to do, “and we did it for the right reasons – to bring home one of our own people.”