NBC News: Bowe Bergdahl to be Charged with Desertion


UPDATE: 12:20 p.m., Jan. 27, 2015

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby is pushing back against "untrue" reports that desertion charges have been filed against Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

CNN reported Tuesday that Kirby issued a deinal via Twitter, and the Army likewise denied the reports in a statement to the news network: 
"Contrary to media reporting, no decision made by Army leadership with respect to Sgt. Bergdahl's case. The process will be respected," Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

"What they are reporting is untrue—there has been no update to what we provided in Dec. Investigation is still with [General Mark] Milley who will determine appropriate action—which ranges from no further action to convening a court martial. We cannot discuss or disclose the findings of the investigation while disciplinary decisions are pending before commanders," the Army said in a statement provided to CNN.  

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the Hailey native captured and held for five years by Taliban forces in Afghanistan, will be charged with desertion.

Citing unnamed "senior defense officials," NBC News reported this morning that charges against Bergdahl would stem from allegations that he abandoned his post in June 2009, walking off the base  "in the middle of a combat zone, potentially putting the lives of his fellows soldiers at risk [sic]."

Bergdahl has been stationed in Texas since his release following a controversial prisoner swap in May 2014, and was cleared of any misconduct during his five-years in captivity by a formal investigation this past summer. Desertion charges, however, would focus on his actions before capture. In an email to his parents shortly before he went missing, Bergdahl expressed disgust with the war, his superior officers and the United States in general.

"The system is wrong," he wrote. "I am ashamed to be an american. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools. ... The horror that is america is disgusting [sic]." 

According to NBC News, the charges, which could be released within a week, "will apparently not allege that Bergdahl left with the intent never to return." The 28-year-old could face prison time, but military officials told NBC News that he will probably be allowed to leave the Army with a "less than honorable discharge," be docked $300,000 in back pay and bonuses, and reduced to the rank of Private First Class.