Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl attended his Article 32 hearing to determine if he faces court martial. An Article 32 hearing is a preliminary hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to send the accused to court martial (it is similar to a grand jury hearing).
According to a press release from the U.S. Army, Bergdahl is charged with one count of Article 85 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, “Desertion with Intent to Shirk Important or Hazardous Duty,” and one count of Article 99, “Misbehavior Before The Enemy by Endangering the Safety of a Command, Unit or Place.” If convicted, Bergdahl could face a maximum penalty of life in prison. On June 30, 2009, Bergdahl is alleged to have left his post at Combat Outpost Mest-Lalak in the Paktika Province, Afghanistan. After his disappearance, he was captured by the Taliban and held until 2014. It is believed that he collaborated with the enemy during his five years as a prisoner of war.
According to the lead investigator, Major General Kenneth Dahl, one of the three who testified at Bergdahl’s hearing, he doesn’t believe that Bergdahl should face jail time. According to Major General Dahl in CNN, who spent a day and half interviewing Bergdahl, said that Bergdahl wasn’t sympathetic to the Taliban.
“did not find any evidence to corroborate the reporting that Bergdahl was… sympathetic to the Taliban.”
Two other witnesses appeared before the Article 32 hearing to testify for the defense: Captain John Paul Billings, his former platoon leader, and Terrence Russell of the Department of Defense Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, a civilian. Captain Billings said that he was shocked to find out one of his soldiers had disappeared.
“I didn’t really know what to say. I was in shock, in absolute disbelief that I couldn’t find one of my own men. It’s a hard thing to swallow.”
Captain Billings stated that he was unaware that Bowe Bergdahl had a a psychological discharge from the U.S. Coast Guard. He said he would have recommended Bergdahl for specialist care. Russell said that Bergdahl faced horrific conditions similar to Vietnam.
Jimmy Hatch, a Navy SEAL who was wounded in a failed attempt to rescue Bergdahl, said in the Boston Globe that Bowe Bergdahl needs to be held accountable. Hatch said that sooner or later someone would be hurt or killed trying to rescue Bergdahl.
“The guy should be held accountable. He left, he risked lives and he pulled assets from other parts of the war. Sure enough, days later I was shot, lying in a field screaming my head off.”
For Hatch, whose femur was shattered and left him unable to return to duty, Bowe Bergdahl should face court martial.
Do you think Bowe Bergdahl should face jail time? Do you think he should get the maximum penalty of life in prison?
[Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons]