Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will be charged with desertion, article 85 under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, with intention to shirk intention or hazardous duty and will also face charges of misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit, or place, under article 99. The case has been referred to an Article 32, preliminary hearing.
An Article 32 preliminary hearing is often compared, according to the Army’s statement delivered at Fort Bragg, to a civilian grand jury hearing. The hearing will take place at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The time and date has yet to be announced. Following the article 32 preliminary hearing and receipt of the officer’s recommendations following the hearing, the report will then be forwarded to a general court martial convening authority.
From that point, a few different scenarios could play out for Bergdahl. The case could be referred to a general court martial, a special court martial, or the charges could be dismissed. Any other actions, outside of these three, as deemed appropriate could also occur.
The charge of desertion, article 85, carries with it the maximum penalty of a dishonorable discharge, reduction to the rank of E-1, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a maximum confinement of five years.
Article 99, the charge of misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit, or place, carries with it a maximum penalty of dishonorable discharge, reduction to the rank of E-1, and total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and possible confinement for life.
The Bergdahl controversy was brought to the country’s attention after Barack Obama made an exchange with the Taliban giving them five of their top leaders who had been held at Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release. This exchange drew intense criticism for a few reasons.
First, many deemed the exchange, one decided upon unilaterally by Obama without the proper notification of Congress, to be illegal, an allegation which the Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirmed. Second, those who served with Bergdahl said from the beginning that he was a deserter. When he left his post, he reportedly left behind a note not only renouncing his American citizenship, but denouncing America. Third, those who were in the troops who looked for Bergdahl stated that the attacks against them coincidentally became even more targeted after Bergdahl left.
This story has been updated.