A four-star Army general in North Carolina will determine whether or not to bring charges against a U.S. soldier who went missing in Afghanistan in 2009, Army officials said Monday.
Service officials said the results of an investigation of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was recovered this May in exchange for five Taliban detainees, has been forwarded to Gen. Mark Milley, the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C. Milley will determine what will happen next for Bergdahl, with the options ranging from no further action being taken by the Army to the soldier being court-martialed. Army officials declined to provide any additional information.
“We cannot discuss or disclose the findings of the investigation while disciplinary decisions are pending before commanders,” Army officials said in a statement.
The investigation likely determines whether Bergdahl deserted his patrol base in Afghanistan in 2009 and what kind of treatment he faced after being taken prisoner by insurgents. He was held by the Haqqani network, an insurgent group allied with the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s attorney, said that in choosing Milley to review the case the Army has “brought in the big guns” to determine the outcome. The service has treated Bergdahl with respect, he added, predicting a “wise and sensible outcome.”
“I think the best thing for all involved is if they concentrate on the matter at hand and sort out as best they can where the facts, circumstances and equities point,” said Fidell, a military justice expert and lecturer at Yale University.
As the Associated Press reported Friday, senior Pentagon leaders have been briefed on the investigation already. Bergdahl could get up to $300,000 in back pay over the five years he was held, but also faces the prospect of losing his military benefits if he is convicted of desertion or going absent without leave.