The United States Army has charged Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with one count of desertion and one count of misbehavior before the enemy, “endangering the safety of a command, unit, or place” in the words of Col. Daniel King at a press conference. Next, Bergdahl will face a hearing to determine if there is probable cause to move forward with a trial—not unlike a civilian grand jury. If Bergdahl is tried and convicted under a court martial, he could serve life in prison for misbehavior or five years in prison for desertion.
Bergdahl, 28, disappeared June 2009 from Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan while serving as a private from the 25th Infantry Division. The U.S. military devoted an enormous amount of resources in the search for him, particularly after videos appeared showing him in custody. In addition, his family and their hometown of Hailey, Idaho, fought to keep attention on Bergdahl’s case. In May 2014, Berghdahl was released in exchange for five Taliban members held at Guantanamo Bay who were subsequently transferred to Qatari custody for a year.
President Obama made the announcement of Bergdahl’s release in a Rose Garden ceremony flanked by Bergdahl’s parents, even as the circumstances of his disappearance were shrouded in uncertainty and charges that he abandoned his post and troops. And in a June 2014, interview with CNN, Susan Rice, national security adviser, said Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.”
After undergoing an evaluation, Bergdahl was assigned a desk job at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. During his captivity, he was promoted to sergeant. — Nancy A. Youssef