From the day Army Sgt. Bergdahl disappeared after “wandering away” from his base in Afghanistan, my friends in uniform at the Pentagon told me that it was a case of desertion, pure and simple, and that Bergdahl seemed to be the poster boy for Soldier Most Likely to Desert. A close friend in Special Forces led the first search party, and hated having to do it, not a typical reaction. Another friend was killed in the search. After a few years, when the subject came up, an intelligence officer asked me why I thought that an American soldier who provided no propaganda value (quotes or clips reviling the United States) was being kept alive. Even when the swap was made, he asked why the Taliban would have waited so long. Obviously, Bergdahl wasn’t in that big a hurry to get home.
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held by the Taliban for five years and freed in exchange for five detainees in Guantanamo Bay, will face charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy in a general court-martial, instead of a misdemeanor-level forum, the Army announced Monday.
A date for an arraignment hearing at Fort Bragg, N.C., will be announced later.
Bergdahl’s attorney, Eugene Fidell, said the convening authority — a high-ranking officer charged with deciding whether evidence warrants a court-martial — did not follow the advice of a preliminary hearing officer.
Lt. Col. Mark Visger had recommended that Sgt. Bergdahl’s case be referred to a special court martial, which is a misdemeanor-level forum. That limits the maximum punishment to reduction in rank, a bad-conduct discharge and a term of up to a year in prison.