Today at Fort Bragg Army Base in North Carolina, Col. Daniel King announced the Army has charged Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with two counts of desertion and misbehavior.
The first charge is filed under Article 85: desertion with the intent to shirk hazardous or important duty. If convicted, it carries penalties of dishonorable discharge, rank demotion to level E1, forfeiture of pay, and a maximum of five years confinement.
The second charge is under Article 99: misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command unit or place. If convicted, it carries penalties of dishonorable discharge, rank demotion to level E1, forfeiture of pay, and up to possible confinement for life.
Next, the U.S. Army will hold a preliminary hearing on the charges under Article 32. The hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury trial, will be held to determine if there is sufficient evidence to pursue a court-martial against Sgt. Bergdahl. The hearing will conclude with recommendations for either a special court-martial, a general court-martial, or dismissal of charges.
According to The Washington Post, “Bergdahl, 28, went missing from his base in Paktika province on June 30, 2009, and is believed to have grown disillusioned with the U.S. military’s mission in Afghanistan. He was held captive in Pakistan by the Haqqani network, an insurgent group allied with the Taliban, until the White House swapped him for five Taliban officials in a deal brokered through the government of Qatar.”
Controversy has followed the Bergdahl case ever since it began. Indeed, six U.S. soldiers were killed looking for Bergdahl. His platoon mates knew he was a deserter but it’s pretty clear President Obama didn’t want to hear from them.
Five dangerous Guantanamo Bay-held Taliban commanders were freed for Bergdahl’s release leaving numerous unanswered questions over how President Obama and his administration handled the prisoner swap. Several of those five are reportedly already back on the battlefield, by the way. Since by all accounts Bergdahl willingly left his post in Afghanistan and was “held” for five years by the Taliban, a major part of the Army’s official task will be to prove he had no intention of ever returning to his post. Really, how hard could that be to prove in that Bergdahl returned to the U.S. dressed and speaking like a Taliban member and was even overheard asking the whereabouts of the Taliban?
What do you think? Did Bergdahl desert his post making him a traitor to his fellow soldiers and country or was he a victim of “the fog of war”?