AP: Punishments For Bergdahl Have Wide Range If He Deserted


Reports continue to conflict wildly in the will-he-or-won't-he uncertainty surrounding the possibility of punishment for former prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

NBC News reported earlier this week that charges were imminent against the Wood River Valley native, who gained freedom in a controversial swap for Taliban prisoners of war. But Pentagon officials quickly pushed back against the report, saying a decision had not been made yet.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press is reporting that the Pentagon is facing several options regarding any possible punishment:

AWOL (or absent without leave) would be a relatively non-serious offense. Punishment would be minor, such as having pay docked or being tossed from the Army. The AP reports that chances are slim for this since Bergdahl went AWOL in a combat zone.

A few other possible charges, according to the AP, include:
  • Desertion With Intent to Remain Away Permanently: The Army would need to prove that Bergdahl had no desire to return to his squad. In 1945, the U.S. Army actually stood a private in front of a firing squad and executed him for desertion. The execution was kept secret for nine years. A more likely sentence for Bergdahl could include time in prison and a dishonorable discharge.

  • Desertion With Intent to Avoid Hazardous Duty or to Shirk Important Service: The AP reports this is one of the more likely charges and is much more serious than AWOL. The Army would not need to prove that Bergdahl had no intention of return to his unit. Punishment could include prison, a dishonorable discharge and/or forfeiture of pay and benefits.

  • Failure to Obey a Lawful Order: There's a good chance that this additional charge could also hit Bergdahl, since he allegedly committed a serious breach of military conduct.