Afghani insurgents kidnapped U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in June of 2009 and for the last five years, the government has been scrambling to get him back safely. At the time of his capture, Bergdahl, an Iowa native, was 23 years old, and now, at 28, he is on his way back to America.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that Saturday’s rescue happened quickly because they recently received information that the soldier’s health was deteriorating.
"We believed that the information we had, the intelligence we had, was such that Sgt. Bergdahl's safety and health were both in jeopardy and in particular his health deteriorating," said Hagel. "It was our judgment that if we could find an opening and move very quickly with that opening, that we needed to get him out of there essentially to save his life. I know President Obama feels very strongly about that, I do as well."
Officials were able to negotiate with the Taliban-associated militant group, offering them five Taliban members jailed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for Bergdahl’s safe return.
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"Fortunately, no shots were fired, there was no violence," said Hagel. "It went as well, not only as we had expected and planned but I think as well as it could have."
Bergdahl was the last American to still be held captive from the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Many people have questioned the decision to release five militants in exchange for Bergdahl’s release, but a government official maintains that the release was safe and well planned.
"As the administration has repeatedly affirmed, we will not transfer any detainee from Guantanamo unless the threat the detainee may pose to the United States can be sufficiently mitigated and only when consistent with our humane treatment policy,” said a senior administration official to CNN.
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Bergdahl was last said to have arrived in Germany for medical treatment and will soon be making his way back home.