Bowe Bergdahl Avoids Prison For Desertion But Loses All Military Benefits

Dibyendu Roy Chowdhury
Dibyendu Roy Chowdhury
Bowe Bergdahl Avoids Prison For Desertion But Loses All Military Benefits

A judge has ruled that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl doesn't need to serve prison time for endangering troops after abandoning his base in Afghanistan in 2009.

The military judge, Col. Jeffery R. Nance of the Army, also reduced Bergdahl’s rank to private and ordered him to forfeit $1,000 a month of his pay for 10 months.

President Trump, who made Bergdahl a staple of his campaign trail, labeled the Friday’s sentence as “a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military.”

Bergdahl deserted his post in Afghanistan in June 2009, and was captured by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network within hours. Several soldiers were injured in the search operation during the five years he was held captive by the Taliban.

The judge’s two-minute hearing brings the highly politicized saga closer to an end after President Obama freed him in exchange for five Taliban detainees at Guantánamo Bay — a decision angered many Republicans.

During the hearing, Bergdahl apologized for his actions and said that he grieved “for those who have suffered and their families.”

“I’m admitting I made a horrible mistake,” he added.

The lead Army prosecutor, Maj. Justin Oshana, had little time for the sergeant’s excuse. “It wasn’t a mistake,” Oshana said. “It was a crime.”

The prosecutor then asked the judge to sentence Bergdahl for 14 years in a military prison.

The defense argued that it wouldn't be justice to rescue Bergdahl from the Taliban “only to place him in a cell” again.

“It is undisputed that Sergeant Bergdahl paid a bitter price for the decision he made,” one of his lawyers, Capt. Nina Banks, told the judge. “Sergeant Bergdahl has been punished enough.”

Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion on October 16.

Photo credit: AP