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Released captive Bergdahl at medical center in Texas

Released captive Bergdahl at medical center in Texas

His parents will be privately reunited at the Army facility with their son, who will continue Iris recuperation there

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Released captive Bergdahl at medical center in Texas

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

U.S. officials are taking steps to ensure that the Idaho native is not immediately subjected to public scrutiny following his five years as a captive of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl returned to the United States early Friday after five years of captivity with the Taliban in Afghanistan, which released him in a controversial prisoner swap.

Bergdahl, who has been recovering at an Army medical facility in Germany since his release last month, "will continue the next phase of his reintegration process" at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Pentagon spokesman Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

"Our focus remains on his health and well-being," Kirby said.

Officials in Washington said Bergdahl would be reunited with his family at Brooke and spend an undetermined period there in further recuperation. It was not clear when his family would arrive at the Army base.

In a statement released early Friday via the Idaho National Guard, Bergdahl's relatives asked for privacy as they prepare to see him for the first time in years.

"While the Bergdahls are overjoyed that their son has returned to the United States, Mr. and Mrs. Bergdahl don't intend to make any travel plans public," said spokesman Col. Tim Marsano.

Army officials said no media would be allowed onto the base or in the hospital. A press conference was held Friday afternoon at a nearby golf course.

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 Idaho native was captured in Afghanistan in June 2009 and released by the Taliban on May 31 in a deal in which five senior Taliban officials were released early 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 accrued since he disappeared. If it is determined that he was a prisoner of war, he also could receive an additional $300,000 or more, if recommended and approved by Army leaders.

Before Bergdahl's departure from Germany on Thursday, officials in Washington said he would not receive the automatic Army promotion that would have taken effect this month if he were still in captivity.

Now that Bergdahl is back in U.S. military hands, any future promotions would depend on his performance and achievement of certain training and education milepost.

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

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

Critics also have said the five Taliban could return to the battlefield. Administration officials have told Congress that four of the five Taliban leaders likely will rejoin the fight after they spend a required year in the nation of Qatar.

In congressional testimony Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had referred to the former Taliban officials as "enemy belligerents," but said they hadn't been implicated in any attacks against the United States.

Qatar has agreed to keep the five inside the country for a year, and Hagel said Qatar promised sufficient security measures to warrant making the swap for Bergdahl.

Hagel also said Bergdahl was early in the process of recovering from the trauma of captivity.

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