Bowe Bergdahl, the United States Army Sergeant who walked away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and ended up being held by the Taliban for five years, is facing arraignment by a military court in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The charges being brought against him include desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
Bergdahl, who is now 29, left his post, Combat Outpost Mest-Malak, in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktika province on June 30, 2009. He admits to doing this, and claims the act was intended to send a message to his superiors about alleged poor leadership in his unit. Obviously, this was an extremely bad idea. He was held as a captive by Taliban forces until May, 2014. Then, in a very controversial move by President Obama, he was swapped for five Taliban prisoners who were being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
If convicted in this general court-martial, he could receive a sentence of up to life in prison for the misbehavior charge, and up to five years for desertion. A preliminary hearing officer had recommended Bergdahl face a proceeding that would carry a possible maximum penalty of a year in confinement, but General Robert Abrams, Commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, ordered the case be handled as a general court-martial.
Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Corn, who teaches at the South Texas College of Law, has suggested his lawyers could try to have the trial moved back to Texas. Speaking to Reuters, Corn says, “Fort Bragg is one of the most combat-oriented bases in the country. So there will be a lot of combat veterans who will be very intensely interested in a case like this.”
Corn also said he wouldn’t be surprised if the jury decides not to send Bergdahl to prison. “These are people who are able to sort out the difference between extremely aggravated offenses and offenses committed by people who just make really stupid decisions.”
Bergdahl is full-time active duty, presently stationed at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas. Personally, as an Army veteran, I can’t imagine serving next to someone like this. It would anger me greatly.
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