By Debbie Gregory.
In the Army’s case against Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier held prisoner for years by the Taliban after leaving his post in Afghanistan, military prosecutors have reached into a section of military law seldom used since World War II.
For months, there has been speculation if Bergdahl would be charged with desertion after the deal brokered by the U.S. to bring him home. He was — but he was also charged with misbehavior before the enemy, a rare offense that carries a potentially stiffer penalty.
Bergdahl could face a life sentence if convicted of the charge, which accuses him of endangering fellow soldiers when he “left without authority; and wrongfully caused search and recovery operations.”
Soldiers who served with Bergdahl have said that the search for the accused deserter endangered other troops and diverted resources from other units.
Cody Full, 28, Bergdahl’s former platoon mate, and Evan Buetow, 28, who was the sergeant and team leader of Bergdahl’s unit, welcomed the new charge levied against the accused deserter.
“You give an oath,” Full said. “You sign your name to serve your country no matter what you’re supposed to fill that oath.”
“The whole reason we came forward last year when they released Bowe, we knew he needed to answer for what he did,” added Buetow. “We knew he was not a hero… He had to answer for why he deserted, and that’s what happened.”
Bergdahl has also been accused of “desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty,” a charge that carries a potential five-year sentence, noted the Army statement.
On September 17th, his case is scheduled to go to an Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a grand jury, and would recommend whether the case goes to a court martial.
Five senior Taliban figures were exchanged for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.