Military officials have decided to pursue a desertion case against former Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl. The charges contend that the U.S. Army sergeant willfully deserted his post in Afghanistan before he was captured by Taliban affiliated terror group Haqqani network in 2009.
The charges against Bergdahl are "desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty" and "misbehavior before the enemy, endangering the safety of a command, unit or place." The latter charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Due to his five years in captivity, experts speculate that Bergdahl will not serve any actual prison time, and that the conviction will mainly serve to disqualify the soldier from military benefits.
"He did spend X number of years as a prisoner of the Taliban - that certainly mitigates the need for him to be locked up," stated military defense lawyer Daniel Conway. "But as a political matter, I don't think we can stomach the possibility that he deserted his post and could receive $300,000 in back pay for it."
Bergdahl was released by Haqqani last year after he was traded for five Taliban prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay. The controversial trade was criticized by many members of Congress and military servicemen.
The results of Bergdahl's court martial will likely trigger further debate concerning the now 29-year-old. The words of one Pentagon official reflect the complex nature of Bergdahl's story: "[He was] at worst, a deserter. At best, a stupid kid who caused us to expend great energy and resources to bring him home."