WASHINGTON — Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been recovering in Germany after five years as a Taliban captive, is returning to the United States today, but he will not receive the promotion that would have been automatic had he still been held prisoner.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Thursday that Bergdahl had left Germany on board a U.S. military aircraft and was expected to arrive at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, early this morning.
The promotion list, which would have boosted Bergdahl to staff sergeant, was expected to be released this week and he would not be on it, the Associated Press reported, citing an unnamed U.S. official.
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Associated Press last week that the promotion would no longer be automatic because Bergdahl is now free and any promotion would be based on routine duty requirements, such as proper levels of training and education as well as job performance.
The U.S. official said medical personnel had determined that Bergdahl was ready to move on to the third phase of his reintegration process, which would happen at Brooke.
Officials had previously said the intention was for Bergdahl to be reunited with his family at Brooke and to spend an undetermined period there in further recuperation.
Officials also said Thursday that the Army has not yet 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.
The answers to those questions will be key to whether Bergdahl will receive more than $300,000 in back pay that is owed to him since he disappeared in June 2009.