Bowe Bergdahl to Return to US Army
Onetime Taliban prisoner Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, dubbed in Israeli media as "America's [Gilad] Shalit," will be returning to the armed services next month - and gain a windfall of tax-free benefits along the way.
Fox News reports Tuesday that Bergdahl, who was traded for five top Taliban terrorists in May, would gain $350,000 from the US government without paying taxes, according to regulations for work within a combat zone. Of that, $200,000 would be for wages earned during his captivity and $150,000 if he in fact was a prisoner of war.
Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Alayne Conway stressed to the Daily Mail that the move will be within the constraints of normal Army regulations.
"The Army's determination of Sgt. Bergdahl's eligibility for pay and benefits will be in accordance with the appropriate laws, regulations and policies," Conway stated. "Pay is always linked to duty status."
Bergdahl will not be returning to combat, however.
"To use a slang term, he will be working a desk job," Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the Pentagon, told ABC News.
"Sgt. Bergdahl is not restricted in any way," he added. "He is a normal soldier now."
The Bergdahl deal, announced in June, saw five top Taliban terrorists released for the soldier, who has been held captive since 2009.
Several elements of the deal have made the trade the subject of intense political and media scrutiny over the past several weeks: the failure to report the deal to Congress, which stands on shaky legal ground; the Taliban's hailing of the deal as a "tremendous victory" for terrorism in Afghanistan; and evidence that the soldier was not captured from his base, but deserted voluntarily - and even came to grow close to his captors, learning their language and teaching them badminton.
The five Afghani Taliban prisoners released are widely thought to be the most senior terrorists held by the US at Guantamano Bay, and concerns have been raised that their return could facilitate a major rise in terrorism in the volatile region.