UPDATE: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will face charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, according to his lawyer. The Washington Post reports more updates are forthcoming.
An Army general will decide whether Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared in Afghanistan in 2009 and was held captive by the Taliban until May 2014, will face disciplinary action stemming from the incident. Commander of Army Forces Command Gen. Mark Milley will “determine appropriate action – which ranges from no further action to convening a court-martial,” a Pentagon statement said. Milley will also decide what, if any, charges Bergdahl will face, the New York Times reports.
Bergdahl was profiled by the late Michael Hastings for the Rolling Stone article “America’s Last Prisoner of War.” After enlisting in the Army in 2008 and serving a hellish tour in Afghanistan, Bergdahl abandoned his troop’s barracks on June 30th, 2009 and headed off armed only with a knife, a diary, a digital camera and water. He was captured within a day by Taliban forces and held in captivity for five years. Despite aborted attempts to free Bergdahl, the soldier’s release was finally negotiated this May, with Bergdahl being exchanged for five Taliban officials.
Since Bergdahl’s release, officials have been trying to determine whether the sergeant should face charges for leaving his post. The Army recently concluded their investigation into the matter, and now that decision will come down to Milley. While details of the Army investigation have been sealed, the New York Times reports that members of Bergdahl’s former unit have lobbied that he face disciplinary action, claiming he put his unit in harm’s way when they attempted to find him.
“As the facts become known, as they presumably will at some point, perhaps those who were so quick to condemn Sergeant Bergdahl will have second thoughts, or at least, especially at this time of year, will see his conduct in a different light,” Bergdahl’s lawyer Eugene Fidell told the New York Times.
An investigation into Bergdahl’s disappearance two months after the sergeant was abducted concluded that his unit suffered from poor discipline and that the chain of command failed to secure the area around the outpost.