Following release from his Taliban captors, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has arrived back on American soil, the Pentagon has confirmed.
The US soldier arrived at Brooke Army Medical Centre in San Antonio, Texas, this morning, after recuperating at a German military hospital since 1 June.
Sgt Bowe Bergdahl had spent five years as a Taliban hostage after being captured in Afghanistan in 2009. He was freed on 31 May following a prisoner-swap which saw five Taliban Guantanamo Bay detainees freed in exchange.
His physical and psychological rehabilitation is expected to continue at the Texas base, where the soldier is also expected to be reunited with his family.
He was flown on a military aircraft from the US air base in Ramstein.
Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement that he "is confident that the Army will continue to ensure that Sgt Bergdahl receives the care, time and space he needs to complete his recovery and reintegration.”
The hostage had reportedly told officials at the hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, that he has been locked in a cage, beaten and tortured.
Sgt Bergdahl’s release from enemy captivity has been marred by dispute and is far removed from the hero’s welcome normally unfurled on a trooper returning home.
The prisoner swap has been condemned by a posse of Republicans and some Democrats, who claim that the Obama administration had overstepped its authority by making the agreement without Congress’ approval.
Critics also say that the five Taliban members released to Qatar for a one-year monitoring programme – following 12 years in Guantanamo – may well just re-join their faction at a later date, while some of Bergdahl’s colleagues claim that the soldier had deserted his post.
Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry have both defended the decision to negotiate his release.
Officials confirmed today that the army has not yet formally started investigating the circumstances surrounding neither Bergdahl’s five years in captivity nor whether he had abandoned his unit of free will when captured by militants.
He reportedly wrote two letters to his parents while in Taliban confinement explaining why he had walked away.
According to The Daily Beast, a letter dated 23 March 2013 reads: “Leadership was lacking, if not non-existent. The conditions were bad and looked to be getting worse for the men that where actuly (sic) the ones risking thier (sic) lives from attack.”
It follows the disclosure earlier this week that Sgt Bergdahl had not spoken to his family days after his release.
Officials had said that he was "not ready psychologically or emotionally" to meet his family.
Sgt Bergdahl will not receive the automatic promotion that would have taken effect this month if he were still in captivity – now that he is free any future promotion would rely on his job performance, training and education.
Decisions on whether he will receive $300,000 (£177,000) in back salary or a prisoner of war compensation payment are yet to be made.